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Good, but could've...should've been better., 8 March 2001

First off, let me say that I really enjoyed "Romeo Must Die." The plot is good, if it at times does seem overdeveloped to the point of slowing the film down, and the action is excellent. Jet Li is quite the performer, and does a great job both portraying the character and performing the stunts in the film. That said, "Romeo Must Die" makes several serious errors. The most glaring one is what I am now officially calling "The Matrix Problem." When "The Matrix" was released, it showed off some excellent special effects and enhanced stunts that added to the computer-world feel of the film. As is only right, these effects astonished filmmakers and moviegoers alike. The Matrix Problem, however, is that many, many films have felt the need to use these same effects- with no explanation as to WHY the characters can do these insanely unrealistic things. In "Romeo Must Die," Jet Li performs several amazing stunts by his own power. However, there are also some obviously enhanced ones. The one that most easily comes to memory is a video-game like super-high jump kick (play Marvel vs. Capcom or a similar game, and you'll know what I mean). Sure, it looks cool. But it also looks incredibly fake, ruining the dramatic fight scene that was going on before it. Special effects should enhance the fights, not screw them up like they do in this film. Also, as mentioned above, the plot is occasionally overdone, for an action film. I'm not saying that I don't like intricate plots...far from it, I prefer plots with twists and turns that you have to think about the whole time. But in "Romeo Must Die," the producers seemed to be trying to make a fast action movie and an intricate, involving mystery at the same time. The combination just ends up not working right, slowing down what could have been a great action film- or skimming what could have been a great mystery. "Romeo Must Die" is a good film, and one that was fun to watch for the most part. It just could have been, should have been, a lot better.

Don't even watch the MST3k version...its that bad., 8 March 2001

Yes, this is the movie not even Mystery Science Theater 3000 could make entertaining. The movie that still manages to cause extreme anguish to the viewer even through the shield of humor that Mike and the bots try to erect for us. With no plot (not even a stupid one, it just ISN'T THERE), no characterization (with the exception of the guy that wants to raise money to pay back his parents for college, who of course dies off camera and is completely unimportant), and a lack of any other redeeming value, I'm sure that this is the film, had MST3k's plot of driving Mike insane with bad movies been real, that would have done it. There is absolutely nothing in this film to possibly entertain you, and even though the boys at Best Brains tried their best, even they couldn't bring enough humor into this piece of cinematic garbage to make me want to watch it. Avoid it like the plague...actually, avoid it like a combination of the plague, nuclear explosions, and a room full of drunken monkeys with typewriters (who were, of course, likely the authors of this film.). Why that last one? Ever been hit in the head with a typewriter? Ok...that was weird, but this film does that to you.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Only Decent, and certainly NOT a worthy addition to the series- spoilers, 8 March 2001

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Had "The Phantom Menace" not been in the Star Wars series, I might have been able to forgive its faults. Its attachment to that excellent series of films, though, makes this film a real insult. Among the problems... Every SINGLE good thing in the film happens completely by accident. The good guys have no plan. They accidentally meet Jar-Jar...well, okay, that isn't a good thing, but we were supposed to THINK it was. They accidentally meet up with Anakin. Jar-Jar accidentally blows up the droids in the battle between Gungun and battle droid armies...might I add that having Jar-Jar do anything other than what is loosely called comic relief is a horrible idea. Heck, the big evil battleship of doom that of course wasn't just another copy of the Death Star, really...that was blown up in a MASSIVE series of accidents. I guess we're supposed to believe that the Force had a sense of humor back before the Empire, huh? Let's also analyze some other significant problems. The duel- Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan vs. Darth Maul. Nice fight. Too bad it didn't make a bit of sense. Qui-Gon Jinn is a full-fledged Jedi Knight. Obi-Wan is an apprentice who is almost a full Jedi. Darth Maul is an apprentice Sith. It is extremely doubtful that an apprentice Sith with a dual-bladed SINGLE lightsaber can take a two-on-one fight with one full Jedi and another nearly full. If the Sith are /that/ much better than the Jedi, then there's no way good ol' Luke could have ever beaten Vader- which he DID do, before the emperor interfered. Also, there's the matter of Qui-Gon's death. I realize they pretty much had to have him eliminated from the story somehow, or Obi-Wan wouldn't have trained Anakin. But being stabbed in an area that is not instantly fatal, with a weapon known to cauterize wounds (and that is made for slashing, not stabbing, and therefore would be awkward as a stabbing weapon), and slumping to the ground- somehow pulling Darth Maul's LASER sword, that cuts through much harder things than human flesh, down with him? Anyone else see a problem? Besides it being a far less visually stunning death than the rest of the fight seemed to be leading up to? Obi-Wan then proceeds, of course, to beat Darth Maul single-handedly, when the two Jedi couldn't even get a near-hit on the guy together. Would it have been too hard to have Qui-Gon use the last of his strength to throw the lightsaber at Maul from behind or something cool like that, instead of having Obi-Wan get his power from anger (the dark side, by the way) and cut Maul in two with a slash twice as slow as the stuff the guy was blocking easily moments before? "The Phantom Menace" is watchable, but only that. It is certainly not a worthy prequel to the Star Wars Trilogy. I will see the next movie...but only in the hopes that Lucas will fix what went wrong in this one. And maybe take out Jar-Jar...

Wow, what happened here? (Spoiler alert), 3 March 2001

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"The Art of War" was billed as an intelligent, captivating thriller that would take you through twist and turns in plot and finally leave you amazed at the complexity of strategy and spywork. What it was was an absolutely brainless action flick, with an ending that you could see coming within the first few scenes in the film. Oh, and it was bloody. Very bloody. Disgustingly so. The producers of "The Art of War" were rather obviously hoping for another "The Matrix." They had martial arts, gun stunts, and Matrixesque special effects (which were so cool in "The Matrix" because we all knew why these stunts worked- they're in a computer and they can bend reality. The special effects were appropriate because they emphasized that. So...where's the explanation for this movie?). Unfortunately, they did not have the other things "The Matrix" had- namely, a plot, characters I cared about, and an underlying meaning. "The Matrix" proved that action films could still be cool with a plot and without lots and lots of blood splattering everywhere. Think about it- even in the scenes where the heroes beat-up/shot lots of bad guys, there was very little blood or gore. "The Art of War" reversed that. It took away the intelligent plot and replaced it with showers of blood. It took away the amazing acting and characters and replaced them with such stunning people as a Generic Evil Executive and a Foolish Police Detective. Wesley Snipes, for his part, portrayed his character decently, but it was never really clear if he was supposed to be a James Bond-like action star or a more intelligent actual spy, as he often uses good strategies to set something up and then throws them out the window to do something that gives us more action. And how horrible is it that when the Intelligent Computer Girl was being bloodily beaten up, I largely didn't care? Just like I didn't care when Snipes' character killed her killers (also bloodily) or beat up his former partner (VERY bloodily) that turned on him in a way that was MUCH better done by Peter Graves in "Mission Impossible?" If you went in expecting a brainless, bloody action flick, its actually a pretty good one. But if you were expecting something that would make you think, that would have some plot twists...go elsewhere. Oh, and bring a barf bag. There's a LOT of blood, and if you're at all bothered by such things, you'll probably need several barf bags. Recommendation to avoid...unless Mystery Science Theater 3000 comes back and has fun with it, anyway.

The Matrix (1999)
512 out of 706 people found the following review useful:
What is the Matrix? Well, one of the best films ever, for one thing..., 3 March 2001

The Matrix...when I first heard about it, I expected just another sci-fi action thriller. Good and filled with insane stunts, but not terribly intelligent.

Boy, was I wrong. Oh, the stunts are there in spades, all right, and yes, they are awesome. And the special effects are absolutely amazing (even if similar ones have been used in other movies as a result- and not explained as well).

But the movie has plot as well. It has characters that I cared about. From Keanu Reeves' excellent portrayal of Neo, the man trying to come to grips with his own identity, to Lawrence Fishburne's mysterious Morpheus, and even the creepy Agents, everyone does a stellar job of making their characters more than just the usual action "hero that kicks butt" and "cannon fodder" roles. I cared about each and every one of the heroes, and hated the villains with a passion. It has a plot, and it has a meaning...and lo and behold, a plot does help the fight scenes! Just try it, if you haven't seen the movie before. Watch one of the fight scenes. Then watch the whole movie. There's a big difference in the feeling and excitement of the scenes- sure, they're great as standalones, but the whole thing put together is an experience unlike just about everything else that's come to the theaters. Think about it next time you're watching one of the more brainless action flicks...think how much better it COULD be.

All I can say is WATCH THIS MOVIE. If you haven't, you're missing out on one of the best films of all time. It isn't just special effects, folks.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Good, but could've been so much better..., 3 March 2001

Sandra Bullock reprises her role as Annie Porter in Speed 2: Cruise Control. She has, apparently, dumped Jack because he was a risk taker. If they were looking for a way to explain Keanu's absence in this sequel, they really could have done better. Especially since her new boyfriend is even more extreme than Jack.

Speed was an excellent action film, with some nice acting and a great plot to boot. Speed 2 makes an excellent attempt at a follow-up, but with plot problems like the above and acting that is, from everyone but Sandra Bullock, not nearly on the level of Speed, it just doesn't have the appeal of the original.

After the excellence of the Speed, Speed 2 is a real disappointment. Oh, its still a good film in its own right, but when compared to the first it really is just a drab copy. While there is a good amount of humor, many of the jokes are just restatements of the jokes from the original. Much like the entire plot, which is largely the same, except that they use a boat this time instead of a bus. There ARE other things that the word "Speed" could suggest, guys.

Like I said, though, it is still a good film. It just falls short of the original, despite the fact that it is very obvious that everyone was trying their best. Speed was a sort of miracle combination of acting, plot, and stunts that just doesn't happen twice, but Speed 2 does a good job trying. Watch it.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
A good film, but could've been better..., 3 March 2001

Mystery Science Theater 3000 has always been one of my favorite shows. From "Agent for H.A.R.M." to "Time Chasers" to "Prince of Space," the boys from the Satellite of Love do an excellent job of what everyone in their right mind has always wanted to do- freely mock horrible movies, and get PAID for it. With the cancellation of the series in 2000, I find myself having to mock bad movies on my own. And I'm not nearly as good at it. MST3k, as I said, was an excellent series. From their actual movie-mocking to the skits they'd put on between segments, the show was straight out hilarious, always constructed in just the right way. The movie version, unfortunately, falls just a bit short of the norm. It's still good, the skits in particular being insanely funny, but it somehow seems a bit off. I find myself thinking that the good folks on the show were a bit too stressed about this being a movie, and were just not up to their usual feel-good level. On the whole, it seems rushed- "This Island Earth," the movie in question, doesn't seem to take as much abuse as most of the films on the tv version of the show, as though the MST3k guys were being too careful, trying to avoid offending anyone that might like the film. A great number of the jokes involve the special effects of the day, something they usually avoid with good reason. After all, many times the special effects are the best that could be done at the time, and the show was made to mock movies that just didn't try, not ones that did. "This Island Earth" is widely regarded as a real classic, and it seems like it really was a step above the usual movies MST3k mocks. While that's not to say that there isn't anything funny in the movie segments, they just aren't as good as they usually are, consisting mainly of the previously mentioned special effects jokes and Star Trek references, with better jokes on the acting or plot coming far less often than in the TV series. The mocking of the MST3k credits is actually funnier than the rest of the movie segments. Still, the MST3k movie is easily worth watching. It's a good introduction to the series, and the skits (particularly "Mike broke the Hubble") are lots of fun. If you're looking for the best they can do, though, this isn't it.

82 out of 95 people found the following review useful:
One of my all-time favorites, 3 March 2001

Ah, Dragonheart. I still love this film... I could talk about the top-notch special effects of the time and the inclusion of Sean Connery and Dennis Quaid, who performed their roles of noble dragon and despairing knight incredibly well...I guess I just did...but I think there's something else about this film that needs mentioning.

Dragonheart is an incredibly uplifting film. In a day when a lot of movies are chilling visions of the world around us, we need something to show us hope. Dragonheart, with its tale of a knight who lost his faith and a dragon who was trying to restore his honor, paints a beautiful picture of kindness, friendship, love, and sacrifice that never fails to inspire me. I am not a man given to displays of emotion, really...but the film makes me laugh and cry throughout everything.

And the soundtrack certainly helps. It is a textbook example of the proper use of a soundtrack to emphasize the plot and emotion. The beautiful "To the Stars" remains one of my absolute favorite songs. I can never listen to the soundtrack without seeing the movie happening again before my eyes.

Get the movie. And get the soundtrack. You'll love them both.

Speed (1994)
A great film, 3 March 2001

Speed is amazing. With stellar performances from the cast (something lacking in some action movies), a very nice plot (another thing lacking in many action movies), and excellent, suspenseful sequences, the entire film is a great experience. This film is, actually, the only reason I later watched "The Matrix," which I originally believed would just be your standard sci-fi action flick.

Remembering Keanu Reeves' performance in "Speed," however, made me take another look. Reeves is a good actor, who, in this film as well as in "The Matrix," did something many action stars can't do- he made me care about the characters far more than the stunts. The addition of Sandra Bullock, an excellent actress, certainly didn't hurt things, nor did having Dennis Hopper as the diabodical villain (who is VERY convincing and nasty).

Excellent film, with, by the way, an excellent soundtrack. Check it out!

Mitchell (1975)
1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Watch only if you want to torment yourself...spoilers (well, a few scenes mentioned...), 3 March 2001

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Mitchell" is a bad movie. A very bad movie. The hero, an alleged detective, is portrayed by Joe Don Baker. The problem is, that he doesn't do anything detective-like, or even reasonably intelligent, throughout the entire film. Nor is he in any way particularly likable, always at least appearing staggeringly drunk, and completely devoid of anything resembling a personality. Beyond the hero's own problems, of course, are the problems with the plot. Essentially, its a badly done version of your generic "policeman-after-drug-lords" plot. In this case, it's more like "creepy-policeman-after-drug-lords-who-are-far-more-likeable-than-he-is." Several bad sequences, including the world's slowest car chase and a stakeout in which our friend Mitchell seems far more like a stalker than a detective, make this a cinematic catastrophe. You'll find yourself hoping that Mitchell will get himself shot or something and the REAL hero of the film will show up. And when Mitchell finally gets his man, you'll find yourself, if you're still conscious, largely not caring. If you absolutely have to see this film, get the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version. Even they couldn't make it totally watchable, but you'll at least remain conscious for their jokes...

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