Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
This movie suffered from a debilitating case of "cash in on the Twilight mania". From the opening scene of what's-his-name sitting on the hood of a truck doing 70 mph, to the shirtless scene so many commenters have already noted, to the overly long hyperbole of fake, but caring, dad beating the crap out of him to teach him some survival skills: the first 30 minutes of this movie was an obvious pandering to the millions of preteen girls who squeal at the very sight of him (I use him because I can't actually recall the actor's name and I am too lazy to click the back button on my browser to check as I type this).
This was of course very surprising given the presence of other billed actors like Sigourney Weaver. Why she and some of the others would associate themselves with this script I am not certain.
I can see the storyboard now. Kid being chased by both the CIA and a Russian black ops team for some valuable information only he possesses. Throw in a girl, some car chases, a few fist fights: OK not bad. I can see how this would make a good plot device. However, this one failed miserably.
Maybe if the opening scene had started from the train this movie could have garnered some of my respect. However, that would require dispensing with the pointless back story. So if you try to piece together some of the plot points you just end up spraining your brain. That's how bad the plot is.
Many have noted the similarities to Bourne Identity. Hahahahahahahahahaha. Are you serious? The only similarity is they are both movies. No more. OK, I'm done.
Cowboys & Aliens (2011)
An Odd Movie
I was really looking forward to this movie when I first saw the trailers. The juxtaposition of cowboys and aliens seemed fresh and engaging and equaling appealing was the casting of Craig, Ford, and Wilde. Unfortunately, it failed to live up to the hype of my mind.
The more I think about it, the more I realize that the most disappointing thing about this movie is how generic the aliens are. At one point Olivia Wilde's character comments that the aliens thinks humans are nothing more than insects. Yet, the irony is that the aliens are the bug-eyed ones. And you will get lots of interesting looks at what this director thinks aliens look like. I am fairly confident that if aliens ever did land here, they would be incomprehensible to us.
It seems that alien movies more than any other suffer from an acute case of deus ex machina. This is a little different in that the movie begins with one. Yet, for some reason these aliens seem to lack any judgment as they rush headlong one after another into Craig's sniper accurate shots while they themselves never seem capable of hitting a thing. Cliché anyone? The movie tries real hard to inject back story into the main characters but fails rather miserably in being convincing and neither does it seem relevant in what is ultimately a shoot 'em up adventure.
So if you want to watch a movie with some action and appealing visual effects this is it. If you recoil at old clichés then I suggest watching something else.
2.5 out of 4
Oxford Blues (1984)
Not as good as I remembered
I really liked this movie when it was fresh. But that was 25 years ago. And when it popped up online I had to watch it. Despite the years I was surprised at the things I remembered from "No more second chances, no more second chances" to "I think you're being paged, Lionel".
But that was 25 years ago. Now, the only redeeming value this movie has is a rather interesting perspective of Oxford. The plot premise is rather stupid: some kid from Las Vegas transfers to Oxford so he can date a Lady. He then acts like a complete bull in a china shop and for some reason manages to not so much win the heart of the Lady but at least get in her pants?? Bottomline, the characterizations are basically stereotypes, the plot is vapid, and he wins the race in the end. Oops! Spoiler!
OK, now that is has been several months since I watched this again following a 25 year hiatus, I can't get the movie out of my mind. I keep thinking about it. It has the same spell it had 25 years ago. Weird.
OK I Get It
First off, I resisted watching this film after all the hype. I hate pretension in a movie, q.v. my IMDb review of Vanilla Sky (I didn't want to watch a movie that required "heavy lifting"). And more importantly I hate DiCaprio, q.v. my DiCaprio reviews. But this past Friday my wife popped in the DVD, and I proceeded to lazily watch, barely awake, and quite tired after a long week. By the end, I was fully awake which is why I give it 6/10.
All in all, a good pic. But for me, I will not be spending long periods pondering it's metaphysical blah, blah, blah. I mean, I get it. I understand that Cobb and his wife were stuck in a limbo and he planted the idea that the world was fake which stayed with her in an awakened state. I get that Cobb and his team were attempting the same with Fischer.
But what I don't get (read: stupid plot points imo) is: why is Leo was an international man of mystery on the run for his wife's suicide? Or, why Saito could make a phone call and make all of Cobb's problems go away. Or, why being asleep for 8 or 10 hours could feel like your stuck in limbo for dozens of years. And last of all: the stupid cut at the end with the top still spinning.
Apparently, the director spends more time fielding questions about the ending than anything else. Serves him right.
So here is my suggestion: pretend you're in a dream watching this movie, and "kick" yourself just before Leo spins the top at the end. This can be effectively accomplished by hitting the eject button on your remote.
Special Effects Extravaganza
Every so often Hollywood manages to up the ante when it comes to special effects. Assuredly, the thrill of this movie comes in the moments spent wondering how will it look when the world ends. Emmerich doesn't disappoint.
John Cusack stars as an everyman who doesn't save the world a la Randy Quaid style in Independence Day, but instead as an example of "nature choosing her own from among her own." This rather unique element lends the story a sense of credence as one imagines that is just how the apocalypse might play out: random nothing short of miraculous survivors alongside the wholly undeserving. However, the impersonal becomes personal at the conclusion as unlikely survivors are snuffed out gratuitously and cruelly.
Makes one wonder what 2022 will be like in 10 years.
He's Just Not That Into You (2009)
An American Edition of "Love Actually"
I guess it was just a matter of time before they served up an American version of the Brit romantic comedy "Love Actually." And like its English cousin it tries to explore many different kinds of love between an odd assortment of characters whose lives just as oddly intertwine. It's pointless to list the characters but here goes: you got a married couple with the husband contemplating adultery, an unmarried couple with the women contemplating marriage, some gay men who contemplate sex in three seconds or less, and a few lost puppies thrown in for good humor.
My main complaint is this movie comes down hard on the notion of traditional marriage. It puts forth the silly idea that men hate commitment while women constantly agonize over finding Mr. Right and are even devious in their methods to trap men in marriages from which they only want out.
But the inaccuracies don't stop there. This movie tries to be hip by name dropping MySpace but dwells stupidly long on the "waiting for the call" and answering machines of all the anachronistic things. MySpace is so 2005. This is 2009 where Facebook and texting are de rigeur while a phone call is regarded as stalking at best, perverted at worst.
I am not even sure why this is regarded as a romantic comedy. It is not the least bit funny unless you find the stupid vignettes so.
Ah well, I never expect to come away from a "romantic comedy" feeling satisfied. Even if some are amusing, they are all vapid, one-dimensional explorations of the Men are from Mars/Women from Venus theme. But I guess I find the ones that attempt to be sophisticated irksome. And this one irked me.
The Nanny Diaries (2007)
Chick Lit on the Silver Screen
Ever since Lauren Weisberger's roman a clef of Manhattan's elite it has become vogue to offer up more. So we have Ms. Johannson hired as a nanny for an upper East Side family.
The narrative is presented as a entrance essay for a graduate program in anthropology with allusions to Mary Poppins complete with Travelers' red umbrella. Please. I know that Ivy League admissions directors are a fickle bunch, but they're not stupid. But let's face it, a nanny is nothing more than a full time babysitter and watching Ms. Johansson bond with a preschooler fails on several levels.
As for the characters of Mr. and Mrs. X., well, it is clear that Mr. X is an mergers and acquisitions investment banker, the vilest of professions in Hollywood since Gordon Gecko. A role that has been faithfully followed up ever since. However, this is not just another installment. Mr. X works nonstop, is a philanderer, and well that's about it. Mrs. X doesn't work, is from Connecticut and that's about as far as it goes as well. Maybe the point of the shallow development is some reinforcement of how shallow their lives are, but it also results in a rather shallow plot as if it is told from the perspective of a five year old rather than an graduate anthropologist. But no surprise, a nanny is not an au pair.
From the opening sequence this movie never let up. I never followed the cartoon series, but what surprised me the most about this movie was the realistic intensity of the military sequences.
I would have been tempted to give this movie 10 stars in the same category as Bourne Identity, a personal favorite. However, at times the movie took on an Independence Day cheeziness as the heroes consisted of a bunch of misfits clashing with the stereotypically inept g-men which amounts to little more than political statements that I find particularly bland and stupid. However, it is partially redeemed by the efforts of the special ops forces in the end. But rather than watch Shia Lebouef be transformed from his experience, he simply ends up with the girl in the end.
Also, what's the deal with the glasses? They are imprinted with the navigation coordinates of the Cube's whereabouts circa late 19th century which happens to be the not yet built Hoover dam? Go figure.
Urban Cowboy (1980)
Raw and Real!
I grew up in Houston and was nine when this movie came out. As a result I don't remember anything about the movie. But I do remember the sensation it caused from Gilley's and the mechanical bull to Johnny Lee's hit song "Lookin' for Love" which still brings back memories of childhood whenever I hear it.
However, a few years ago I saw this movie for the first time as an adult and all I can say is, I was blown away. Few movies have hit me harder. This movie is as raw and real as you can get. From Uncle Bob's ranch house, the chemical plant in Texas City, Gilley's dance hall, and Bud and Sissy. And maybe for that reason it doesn't have a wider appeal. But no matter how you feel about country music (I for one can't stand it despite my Houston roots) Urban Cowboy is a unique slice of American pie. For that reason I love it!
I Am Legend (2007)
Poses some interesting questions, but does little to answer them
From the opening scene with Emma Thompson (uncredited), the intelligent moviegoer knows what's next. What's not to so obvious is why Will Smith is the last one on Manhattan island. Manhattan is a crown jewel and to think that all the uninfected/immune people would simply flee the island as fast as their feet would take them versus introducing the subhuman infected to Smith & Wesson is not clear. Now granted, just Will Smith versus all those humanoids is a losing prospect from the beginning. But given a small, immune, heavily armed contingent with floodlights, I am sure Manhattan would be infection free in a matter of weeks, not years.
Now 1.5 million people live on Manhattan. If 90% are killed by the virus that leaves 150,000. Supposedly 90% of those not killed become infected. That leaves 15,000 immune versus 135,000 ravenous, belligerent infected. Now you may think the odds are overwhelming, but if you study the Spanish conquest of the Mayan civilization you will understand why gunpowder was invented and why numbers are irrelevant when your foe is unarmed.
Now granted, I Am Legend is not about how Will Smith ended up all alone three years after the outbreak, but one does wonder how he managed to survive all those years on his own. The movie does posit the potential of the infected somehow becoming smart, devious, cunning or what have you, as is the question of isolation a la Castaway. But while interesting, they are subplots to the larger theme of Will's quest for a anti-virus.
Now I am not going to criticize the Will Smith's of the world who rather find a cure versus kill 'em all. But my gut tells me that if such a scenario ever truly played out, the real conflict would be in the politics of those who wanted to extend compassion versus those who had another agenda and I doubt that they would wait for an election.