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My Bloody Valentine (2009)
One of the worst horror remakes of all time
William Castle perfected the horror movie gimmick in the fifties, half a century later Lionsgate tries to take the horror movie gimmick to the phase with the horrible My Bloody Valentine 3-D. 3-D in horror films is nothing new as most horror buffs know Friday The 13th Part 3 & Piranha II: The Spawning were both released in the eighties in 3-D. While there are a few cool shots in the movie, nothing really jumped out at me and made me saw WOW! My Bloody Valentine was filmed in REALD and while it's not the first film to be filmed in this format, it doesn't have anywhere near the success that Journey To The Center Of The Earth had last summer. Watching the film it became apparent that the format has yet to be perfected and I'm hoping that when Avatar & Final Destination 4 are released later this year in REALD, that movie studios have worked out all the bugs. As for the film itself, it's just your run of the mill slasher film with dumb characters, pointless nudity and horrible acting. I've never been one to down a so bad it's good slasher film as I rank both the Sleepaway Camp & Slumber Party Massacre series high in my guilty pleasures book, but watching My Bloody Valentine was more painful than a New Kids On The Concert. Jensen Ackles from the hit WB series Supernatural gives a horrible acting debut performance as Tom. I didn't go into this movie expecting Ackles to have the same dramatic prowse of say Brando or Penn but, Ackles lines are amateurish in delivery and he doesn't have the experience or the talent to carry this movie. In the female lead role, Jamie King doesn't display the type of courage needed for a female horror heroine and I was just waiting for her untimely demise, which sadly doesn't happen. Finally Kerr Smith shows why he hasn't had a decent acting job, since his days on Dawson's Creek. Lionsgate should be ashamed of themselves for remaking My Bloody Valentine, as the remake gives the original a bad name. Horror films are supposed to be so bad there good, sadly My Bloody Valentine ranks as the worst horror remake since Dark Water; with the added 3-D effect it gains 1 ½ star but other than that it's a waste of time of money.
An amazing film
Musical bio pics have always been one of my favorite film genres; I've enjoyed everything from Bird & La Bamba to Purple Rain & The Temptations. Ironically the Hip Hop films have always been hit or miss with most mainstream moviegoers. There's been Oscar Winners such as 8 Mile, straight to video flops such as I'm Bout It and forgotten classics like Wild Style. Not since Krush Groove has there's never been a true to life hip hop biopic; finally with Notorious Hip Hop fans now have an excellent film to add to the list. Without a doubt, The Notorious B.I.G. is one of the greatest rappers of all time, so it's only fitting a film is made about his life. Biggie Smalls influence on modern Hip Hop is still relevant today in the lyrical styling of Jay-Z, Nas and countless other New York rappers, bringing his life story to the big screen would require great detail and most all of the right actor. Thankfully director George Tillman Jr. found an amazing talent in lead actor Jamal Woolard. Playing The Notorious B.I.G. from teenager to young man, Woolard gives one of the best lead debuts in recent memory. Woolard fully throws himself into the role Of Biggie, the same Jamie Foxx did in Ray. From his the dialect in his voice, to his swagger with the ladies, Woolard makes the character so believable it's almost as if he never died. Naturi Naughton, formerly of 3LW and Antonique Smith also both make amazing film debuts as Lil Kim & Faith Evans. Naghton is able to invoke the "tough girl" attitude and blunt sexuality, that her real counter part is known for; while Smith could easily serve as stand for the Faith Evans, The supporting cast Angela Basset as Volleta Wallace (Biggie's Mother) and Derek Luke as Sean "Puffy" Combs also both give excellent performances. The only performance in question is Anthony Mackie as Tupac Shakur. Mackie had played Tupac before in the off Broadway play Up Against The Wind, which is why he was given the role, however from the start, Mackie was seen as the wrong choice by Tupac fans to bring Pac to life on screen. Given his limited screen time and story arc I think Mackie (who happens to be one of the finest young black actors working today) does a fine job. It should be noted that Mackie really isn't given a chance to fully embrace Shakur as this is a film about Biggie and not about Tupac. The script by Reggie Rock Blythewood may follow the standard biopic outline, but the performances in the film, the flashy visuals and authentic New York setting are what make the film worthwhile. Notorious is more than a film about Hip Hop, it's the story of a man coming to his own who life was cut to short by senseless violence. After leaving the film, the question lingered in my mind if Biggie and Tupac had just taken a few minutes to settle their differences would they be alive today? I came to the realization that if they were alive then the legacy they both left behind wouldn't be as great as it is today.
Yes Man (2008)
Rubberface is back
I had a chance to see an advance screening of Yes Man last night and I have to say it's one of his best comedies since Me, Myself & Irene. I've always been a fan of Jim Carey, whether he's doing juvenile comedy like Ace Venture or adult orientated drama like the highly underrated Man On The Moon; & Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind. Making his first live action film since Fun With Dick & Jane, Carey once again shows his talent as a comic. Early trailers have the film coming off as a Liar Liar rehash, but looking deeper the film is more about than belly laughs and one-liners. It's refreshing to see Carey bring freshness to a role he could easily play in his sleep; one particular scene with Scotch tape had the preview audience in tears. Zooey Deshuncaal more than makes up for the debacle that was The Happening and displays the same likable charm she displayed in Elf, and hopefully she continues to play romantic leads in the future. All in all this is a fine film and if you're looking for a break from the profanity filed gross out comedies of recent memory, then say yes to Yes Man.
Soul Men (2008)
A soulful comedy for all tastes
I had a chance to see an advance screening of Soul Men and I must say it's a highly enjoyable comedy that's a true testament to the comedic skills of both Samuel L. Jackson and the late great Bernie Mac. The trailer pretty much explains the plot, so there's no need to go into detail here but I will say that more than music the film for me was about the friendship between the characters portrayed by Mac & Jackson. Jackson who in my opinion has never handled lead comedic roles very well has a chance to shine here. As for Mac in his last role he's in top form and the comedic chemistry of the two is reminiscent of the Bill Cosby & Sidney Poitter vehicles of the seventies. As for the supporting roles Affion Crockett has a few scene stealing moments and the lovely Sharon Leal continues to make a name for herself. The direction by Malcolm D. Lee is sharp and on par with his previous films Roll Bounce & Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins, while the script by Robert Ramsey and Matthew Stone is the duo's best script since 1999's Life. Watching the end credits of the film which is a heart warming tribute to Mac we given in a chance to look into a man who was more than a comic but an entertainer who loved his craft. Soul Men is a film filled with plenty of soul and is easily one of Mac's best films.
Meet the Browns (2008)
A huge step back for Mr. Perry
After seeing last year's excellent Daddy's Little Girls and Why Did I Get Married I thought Tyler Perry had finally come into his own as a film maker. Granted Mr. Perry doesn't have the visual flair of Spike Lee,John Singleton or the underrated Ernest Dickerson but what he does have is heart. Sadly even an A-list actress couldn't save Meet The Browns from being a trite affair that may hugely disappoint Perry's fans. For starters Mr. Perry needs to fire the editor of this film. Maysie Hoy who edited Perry's two previous films comes of as a first timer here which is ironic because she's been doing movies since 1992 and has worked with talented directors such as Robert Altman (The Player)and Theodore Witcher (Love Jones). I counted at least three scenes which didn't transition well at all and did nothing to progress the story. As for the script it seems as Perry wrote this script on a whim; and the film was just made to cash in on his success because it lacks the heart of Daddy's Little Girls and Why Did I Get Married. As for the acting Margaret Avery who was excellent in The Color Purple & the recent Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins gives a paper thin performance as does Lamman Rucker who was excellent in Why Did I Get Married. As for Angela Bassest she's good as always and plays the mother role very well, I'm anxious to see what she bring Notorious next year. I would say two of the strongest performances in the film come from Lance Gross as Angela and much to my surprise Rick Fox as her would be suitor. The big question though is how well does David Mann's Leroy Brown translate to film ? In my opinion not as well as Madea and some of his jokes seemed forced and unneeded. As for the big screen return of Madea it's unwelcome at best and she hasn't been missed. Tyler Perry has the potential to be one of the strongest black filmmaker in Hollywood, he knows a good story, has a knack for finding talent hence Lammon Rucker and Lance Goss who will both go on to do great things. But with his latest Perry sticks to a formula that he successfully broke out with two back to back winning film released last year. Here's hoping his next film The Family That Preys gets him back on track.
Fat Albert (2004)
Great fun filled movie
Growing up I was enjoyed Fat Albert, when I first heard they were making a movie I was a bit excited, until I saw the set photos and heard about the plot. Little did I know when I went to see the film this past Christmas I would actually enjoy it. The movie starts out almost promising enough- with a Fat Albert cartoon. Only it's animated with current technology, and has the obligatory CG in it, since all cartoons these days need CG. Fat Albert and the Junk Yard Kids are playing a game of Buck Buck with the rival kids. Cut to the main character- Doris, a girl in highschool who isn't invited to a party. And it's understandable with a name like that. She goes home and watches Fat Albert, still crying over not getting invited, and one of her tears hits the remote. Somehow, this sends the tear into the TV, where Fat Albert and the gang sees it. Albert sees Doris is upset, and...jumps out of the TV to help her out. The gang follows, and Doris is left wondering what the heck just happened. She says that she's sad because she can't find her backpack. They see it on the couch, and she thanks them and tries to get them to go back into the TV. But, the show's over, and they can't. Yes, they realize they're cartoon characters, which is actually a good touch on the writers' part. I'm sick of movies where they don't understand that they're not "real". But, she's stuck with them until the show's on again, which isn't until the next day at 2:30. They follow her around town, where they find out that she's sad because she doesn't have any friends. When they follow her to school, they make sure to say this in front of the whole class, and tell people to be her friend. This happens a few more times, and keeps embarrassing her. Fat Albert starts to get puppy love for Doris' foster sister (who is a lot like Shannon Elizabeth- she looks decent, but talks awkwardly and can't act). A guy who has a crush on her from school, played poorly by *sigh* Omarion, doesn't like this, and tries to one-up Albert from time to time, failing miserably. Along the way, not much happens, and I think we all know how much Albert will want to go home after getting Doris' sister to like him.
Yes, the plot is predictable, but it's also pretty boring. Don't get me wrong, I tried to like this movie and accept the charm from the characters. But it just wasn't there. The only Junk Yard Kids that do anything are Mushmouth and Dumb Donald. I swear, Bill served no purpose aside from completing the gang. Old Weird Harold had his moments, but never did much else when they were over. Bucky was there to look creepy (he looks like Dave Chappelle fused with Beetlejuice from Howard Stern), and I honest to god don't remember Rudy doing anything important. Yeah, I know the title of the movie is Fat Albert, but why include the gang if you're not going to use them equally, if at all? And the "problems" Doris faces aren't anything big. We don't find out what her real problem is until later on, and I don't get how someone as good looking as Kyla Pratt could have self-esteem issues. Either way, it was a chore for me to sit through the whole movie. You know things are bad when you think it's almost over, then check the time to see that it's only 15 minutes into the movie. A lot of the acting was terrible as well. Kyla and Kenan were the only ones that gave any effort. Omarion was horrendous, giving weird facial expressions I haven't seen since this one koala ran head-first into a parked jeep on Animal Planet. But, while Kenan did look just like Fat Albert, his voice could've used work. Some scenes had him talking like Albert, others had him talking like Kenan. And what was with all the cameos? The umbrella guy who runs around with Andre 3000 was here, a certain ponk band's lead singer, Aaron Carter with his giraffe-neck, and a few others showed up for a few quick minutes. I'll give the movie one extra star for a great ending sequence. The final moments were touching and a nice tribute. It's not something to not show the kids or anything, but it was a nice bit of respect
Two words sum up this movie for me and they are popcorn flick
Moviegoing auidences have been waiting twelve years for Arnold Schwarzenegger to come back to the role that made him famous and the question remains; was it worth the wait? For me the answer is yes and no. First I'll focus on the yes part of the movie. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines delivers it's share of action and special effects which in the summer time is why we go to the movies. Nick Stahl whose is a very talented actor takes the role of John Connor from Edward Furlong and does it well. And the T-X played by the sexy Kristanna Loken is meancing and a smooth bad ass bad guy. Fianlnly Jonathan Mostow handles the action sequences very well in the film. The chase sequence in the film is one of the best I've seen from the three movies he's directed . Now let's focus on the no part of Terminator 3 that will upset many moviegoers. Terminator 3 has two main probelms that makes the film pale in comparison to it's precassadors. The first being the lack of storytelling that trio of screenwriters John Brancato,Michael Ferris and Tedi Sarafian can't seem to capture that Cameron magic which affects the direction of the talented Mostow. The second problem is the familar score by composer Brad Fiedel which is gone from this film. When it comes to the females in the film Claire Danes and Kristanna Loken both kinda gives a paper thin performances. Danes over does the damsel in distress role and Loken is nothing more than eye candy (but damn does she look good). The film won't please all tastes but if you want mindless entertainment then check this one out. Hopefully the inevitable Terminator 4 with Nick Stahl in the lead will be an improvement over this one. It's not that Terminator 3 is a bad film it just wasn't worth a 12 year wait. Mt final verdict on the film is ** 1/2 stars.
So far the third best sequel I've seen this summer
Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle is the crowd pleasing, mindless summer fun we go to the movies for in the summer time. These movies aren't meant to win awards or be realsitic, they are more about having fun and boy did Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle entertain me for two hours. The angels Diaz, Barrymore and Liu all come back to their roles eager and welcome and all three are just as much fun to watch as they were in thr first one. The chemistry between the three is some of the strongest I've ever seen for a trio of women since The Heroic Trio in an action film involing women. Bernie Mac as Bosley steals every scene he's in and it looks like he had tons of fun working on the movie also. I hope they bring him back for the thrid movie. McG is a good action director and sure sometimes the action sequences are unbeliveable but to me it was all part of the fun. Demi Moore was good in her villian role even though she ahd limtied screen time and the always good Crispin Glover is down right creepy as The Thin Man. With plenty of pop culture refences, eye candy and one liners if you want some mindless summer entertainment then this is the movie for you. I give it *** stars.
Hollywood Homicide (2003)
Still having mixed thoughts on this one
Hollywood Homicide isn't a good film when you get right it down to it, nor is it a really bad one. Hollywood Homicide is a film that was butchered in the editing, script department and really lacks what it needed to be a hit in the summer time which is more action. The trailer pretty much gives away the plot which at some points in the movie goes haywire it seems like the studio was forcing Ron Shelton to give everything into the movie so it could be a big summer tent pole release but alas for a movie of this nature to be a big summer tent pole release in my opinion I would have changed a few things. Number one- replace the non acting Master P with the more rounded Mos Def (who can make any bad movie pretty enjoyable hence his work in Showtime). Number two - make the film R rated you can't make a movie about Gangster rappers and not have profanity, I mean honestly how many ganster rappers do you know that release clean CD'S by choice also add some nudity. As much sex as Hartnett was getting the film could have showed some T&A ! Number three - Give the very underrated Isiah Washingtion more screen time as the villain ! I think that version of Hollywood Homicide would have been good to release in the summer. Although Ford and Hartnett have good chemsitry the film that is made here would have been better suited as a winter or fall release. So like I said I still have mixed thoughts on this one I liked the film for Hartnett and Ford and the many cameo's and pop culture refernces but the story line and lack of action upset me. I give the film ** stars.
An Officer and a Gentleman (1982)
Always will be a great crowd pleaser
Even though An Officer and a Gentleman came out when I was a year old I still recall seeing the film on video when I was about four or five because my mother is a huge Richard Gere fan. An Officer and a Gentleman is a classic tale of overcoming yourself, beating the odds, friendship and the all amercian love story. The film which to this day Taylor Hackford has never topped gets great performances out of all it's actors especially Gere and Debra Winger as the two love birds in love and the odds they over come to be together. The film doesn't make training look unrealstic or promosing and of course there's going to be errors in the film's deception of the miltray but what film about the miltray has been perfect through out ? What makes An Officer and a Gentleman work for me is the performances and we all know that even though Gere and Winger give great performances the film belongs to Louis Gosset Jr who won a well deserved Oscar for his role as Foley. The difference between Gosset and R. Lee Emery in Full Metal Jacket is Emery was a former gunnery sergerant in the Marines and Gosset never had milatry experince to my knowledge which makes the film all the more enjoyable. Throw in some comedy, a few fight scenes and some sex scenes and you have a great crowd pleasing film that anyone can enjoy. I give the film **** stars.