Reviews written by registered user
Michael Carruthers

10 reviews in total 
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9 out of 21 people found the following review useful:
Weird...Beautiful...2001: A Space Odyssey is a cinema landmark!, 6 April 2001

On a rating scale of 0 to 100; I rate 2001: A Space Odyssey a score of 97.

The…greatest…science…fiction…film…ever…made? Could be. 2001: A Space Odyssey is a film that explores the planets and does it beautifully, and is a grand scale epic that will be forever remembered by moviegoer's and critics alike. It's simply a little mastermind of an adventure sci-fi flick that gets more intriguing with every movement of the characters.

The monoliths have been watching us. They gave us the "evolutionary kick in the pants" we needed to survive at the Dawn of Time. In 1999, we discovered a second monolith on the moon. Now, in the year 2001, the SS Discovery and its crew, Captains Dave Bowman (Keir Dullea) and Frank Poole (Gary Lockwood), and their onboard computer, HAL-9000 (voiced by Douglas Rain), must discover what alien force is watching us...

2001: A Space Odyssey is an ultimately confusing film the first time you watch it, but after you see it a couple more times (you will see it more than twice, guaranteed!) you'll start to hook on to the odd but endlessly amazing story-line. The special effects are truly extraordinary for Stanley Kubrick's 1968 film, and Kubrick himself does a brilliant job of trying to show the world his vision of the future in science with his stunningly put-together script, that's always open to frightening and new ideas. There are many more reasons to see this great film, like to watch Keir Dullea's ignored but excellently controlled performance, for Douglas Rain's voice portrayal of HAL-9000's evil, which is bound to send a chill down your spine, and last but definitely not least, Kubrick's unexplainably great effort in directing such a memorable piece of film.

Impossible to miss, impossible to forget. See it immediately.

117 out of 145 people found the following review useful:
Believable and breathtaking view of rock'n'roll in the '70's., 6 April 2001

On a rating scale of 0 to 100; I gave Almost Famous a score of 95.

One of the most critically acclaimed movie experiences of the year 2000, Almost Famous is the second feature film to come out Cameron Crowe, and he beats his first effort, Jerry Maguire by a mile. Almost Famous is a stunning, thought-provoking film that comes at you directly from the eye of the camera and hits you with a hard bang. It's a movie not only for people who love 70's rock bands, but for all movie-goer's who really love the feeling of coming out of the cinema feeling totally fulfilled.

A 15 year old boy named William Miller (Patrick Fugit) gets an opportunity to travel with a rock band, Stillwater on a 1973 tour. As a younger boy, his sister (Zooey Deschanel) and his widowed mother Elaine (Frances McDormand) had fought about the mother's control over the family and her denial of rock music. The sister leaves home and leaves the young boy her record collection, which immediately seizes his attention. As a teen, he makes record reviews for an underground newspaper. He submits those to Creem magazine writer Lester Bangs (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) and gets his attention. The two become fast friends and Bangs acts as his mentor as Rolling Stone magazine comes calling. Slipping into an inner group connected with Stillwater, Rolling Stone agrees to bankroll him on a trip with the group. There he meets the "Band Aids", a group of girls that refuse to be called groupies because they are dedicated only to specific bands. "Penny Lane" (Kate Hudson), the Band Aid's leader is enamored with the group leader (Billy Crudup), but befriends the teen. He responds with complete infatuation with her, but he is equally enamored with the charismatic guitarist. While accepted by the band (other members are Jason Lee, John Fedevich and Mark Kozeleck), they nonetheless refer to him as "the enemy - a rock critic".

The film is classically cool and endlessly enjoyable, making it by far one of the top 5 movies of last year. The film boasts absolutely incredible performances, Patrick Fugit is a newcomer and has terrific potential, Frances McDormand is emotionally stunning as an over-protective mother and Billy Crudup, who I underrated at first, gives a performance of believability and power. However, it comes as no surprise that the film's acting star is Kate Hudson, daughter of Goldie Hawn. Hudson gives a masterful performance as Penny Lane, she pulls off all Lane's facial expressions effortlessly brilliantly, and God knows she is one of the most stunning young performers of her current time, and she gives one of the most memorably exciting performances of 2000. Cameron Crowe gets a big pat on the back too for arranging the movie delicately and with absolute dedication.

Cameron Crowe's instant classic is a hard one to beat, and is surely the closest thing we have to a perfect `rock movie' these days. Absolutely unmissable.

141 out of 204 people found the following review useful:
Look closer at this dazzling, powerful masterpiece of a drama., 6 April 2001

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

On a scale of 0 to 100; I gave American Beauty a score of 99.

Wow…no, I mean that. American Beauty is a film that takes my breath away each time I watch it, and every time I do watch it, I notice something newer, something more exciting and something more funny. There is honestly no other movie like this, and if you haven't seen it, there is something donged in your head, and you must do so now.

Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey) is in a mid-life crisis, caused by his stressed wife Carolyn (Annette Bening) and rebelling teenage daughter Jane (Thora Birch). When Lester and Carolyn go watch Jane cheerleading, they meet Angela Hayes (Mena Suvari), and Lester, caught in sudden lust for Angela, decides to change his life. Angela and Jane's friendship is not all it seems, too, because Angela only brags about how many times she's done it with guys and stuff. That doesn't help an already insecure Jane very much but she finds solace in the arms of the next-door-neighbours' son, Ricky Fitts (Wes Bentley). Ricky, himself from a broken home as well, and Jane find they have a lot in common and eventually turn out to be soulmates.

Everything about this film is so darkly clear, it is extremely obvious why the Academy loved it, and it is very obvious to see that I love it. Spacey brings Lester wildly to life in a performance reminiscent of Spacey's acting coach Jack Lemmon. Also on top form is Annette Bening, in an over-controlled performance that is just so instantly loveable. While all the attention went to these performers, it is also Thora Birch (especially), Mena Suvari, Wes Bentley and a quiet Allison Janney that manage to steal the show just as much. Sam Mendes is an excellent director, this is his first feature, and he is a British man directing an American-based film! And he won an Oscar for it! That's an amazing achievement, ditto to Alan Ball, who's script is effectively a stunner and an instant winner.

The best film of 1999, the best film of its decade and for now anyways, American Beauty stands tall as the best film ever made.

The Beach (2000/I)
49 out of 74 people found the following review useful:
Intense and interesting, but contains it's share of flaws., 6 April 2001

On a rating scale of 0 to 100; I gave The Beach a score of 72.

Many people have stopped themselves from seeing The Beach because of bad reviews from critics and the story of the crew wrecking an entire island to make the movie. One of those things, in my book, is a fact. They did wreck an island, and for pure entertainment, it's not worth it. Still, the bad reviews from the critics I disagree with, I found this quite a little gem, and if you agree with some of my other reviews, I recommend you don't hesitate when you see The Beach sitting on the drama shelf of your video store.

The wonders of modern technology, like computers, video games, cell phones, pagers and the internet, were designed to make our lives more enjoyable and facilitate communications. Yet for many, the complexity of the digital world is overwhelming, leading to a feeling of unreality…of being discconected. The desire to find something real – to connect with something or someone – is what drives Richard (Leonardo DiCaprio), a young American backpacker who arrives in Thailand with adventure on his mind. Travel, he asserts, is the search for experience, the quest for something different. Richard and two friends (Virginie Ledoyen and Guillaume Canet) he meets in Thailand risk their lives travelling secret that is dubbed the beach resort for those who don't like beach resorts. At their destination, Richard and friends are welcomed into a community that lives on the beach. However, they soon discover that beneath this surface, this heaven on earth is less than perfect.

Leonardo DiCaprio declared he was not anti-Titanic when he did this film. And he isn't. DiCaprio shows on his face how successful he is when he did the film, and he is a show-off. But, darn it all, DiCaprio is good because we know he has the potential. He went a long length to do this movie, even director's favourite Ewan McGregor was passed over for DiCaprio, and rightfully so. I just can't picture anyone else playing the role. The acting hotline is also boiling with such talents as Tilda Swinton, Virginie Ledoyen and the masterful Robert Carlyle. Danny Boyle's direction is solid and he paces the film nicely, and the script is adapted well from Alex Garland's better-than-movie book. The film certainly has flaws, some scenes – particularly the ones with the dope growers – are just plain stupid and the film really loses it's feet towards the end, going completely out of control.

Still, The Beach is a film that is ripe for discussion. It features alluring scenery from the small island of Phuket, it has some striking visuals and an absorbing and intense message about finding your own paradise. It's not the best film of 2000, but The Beach remains a worthy attempt.

Amusing and hilarious teen sex comedy, 6 April 2001

On a scale of 0 to 100; I gave American Pie a score of 77.

Before watching American Pie you must be warned: your sides will hurt from laughing too much, and this laughter will come from mostly crude and rude jokes that come with endlessly imaginative actions and fantastic one-liners. And after watching it you also must be warned: you will never, ever, ever under any circumstances eat apple pie again, so make sure you have a slice before you watch this laugh-a-minute teen comedy.

At a high-school party, four friends Jim (Jason Biggs), Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas), Finch (Eddie Kay Thomas), and Oz (Chris Klein) find that losing their collective virginity isn't as easy as they had thought. But they still believe that they need to do so before college. To motivate themselves, they enter a pact to try to be the first to "score." And of course, the senior prom is their last best chance. As the fateful date draws near, the boys wonder who among them will get lucky. More importantly, do they really want to do it at all?

To get the flaws over and done with; Natasha Lyonne is underused, and it is a shame because she is by far the most interesting character in the movie, she has some great quotable parts in the script (`It's not space shuttle launch, it's sex'; `I like to keep my options open') and hopefully, in the up-coming sequel, she'll get more time on-screen. There is also a largely unfunny toilet ‘gag' with the character of Finch, the scene totally steals from Dumb & Dumber, and crapping scenes have been done much funnier and much better. Okay, back to the good stuff, the cast is fantastic, Biggs is a great find (unfortunately he kind of ruined his career with some dumb comedies after he invested the part of Jim), Klein is sensitive and believably hip, while the chick-a-dee's like Mena Suvari, Tara Reid and ultimately Buffy's Alyson Hannigan, who manages to steal the entire film with only one line. This is one blast of a fun movie, I can guarantee you'll be chuckling and smiling a long time after watching it.

If not perfect, American Pie is easily the best teen sex comedy of 1999. Highly recommended any time, any day.

Disappointing. Any Given Sunday only just makes it to the average mark., 6 April 2001

On a rating scale of 0 to 100; I gave Any Given Sunday a score of 56.

What a great looking film: Al Pacino, Cameron Diaz, Dennis Quaid and Oliver Stone, together. It's simply remarkable that this turned out to be a below-average film. Such a good cast, such a good director and such a good trailer. What could've gone wrong?

An ageing football coach named Tony (Pacino) finds himself struggling with his personal and professional life while trying to hold his team together. A star quarterback has been knocked out of the game and a naive football player replaces him only to become exposed to the world of sports and become a danger to himself and to his players. Meanwhile, the coach finds himself constantly at battle with the team owner's money and power hungry daughter Christine (Cameron Diaz) intent on moving the team out.

Any Given Sunday made a decent amount of money at the box office and movie-reviewers enjoyed it. However, if you look at it from a different perspective, Any Given Sunday is too flawed to be enjoyed and has a touch of decency which makes it a film that doesn't deserved to be universally panned. Luckily for the team on-screen and off-screen, this film got hardly any bad ratings, most people rated it as the average mediocre movie. I was one of them, but I found a lot of flaws in the script and timing. The characters weren't developed enough before they started screeching at each other, it's simply too long and I left the cinema with the headache. However, Any Given Sunday is sometimes quite exciting and the cast make it bearable enough for the lazy running time.

Since the film is based on American football, it is mainly aimed at an American audience, which is unfortunate for eager New Zealander's like myself. Oliver Stone's decision to go completely technical is sometimes acceptable, but to be honest, he needs to desperately measure up his game some time soon.

Well worthy of critical praise! American Psycho is highly recommended., 6 April 2001

On a rating scale of 0 to 100; I gave American Psycho a score of 78.

American Psycho is not what I expected it to be. I thought it would be part of the `I Still Know What Mrs. Tingle Did With Your Idle Hands Last Friday the 13th' routine, but this individual and occasionally stunning feature is a real horror film for a real adult audience.

Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) is a respected Wall Street businessman by day. Outside of work, though, he is an accomplished serial killer. After the murder of a rival, Paul Allen (Jared Leto), a private investigator (Willem Dafoe) starts to pick up his trail as Bateman starts to go mental in covering his tracks.

The plot is fairly thin on the ground, and the film has a poor shoot-out finale, but this is still an imaginable, carefully crafted film that is highly controversial because of it's continuous violence and rather odd sexual themes, but Christian Bale and Mary Harron work excellently and co-operate well together to make this film hugely successful with both critics and our friends at the box office. The film has a lot of laugh-out-loud funny moments, but if you're expecting a horror-thriller type, you won't be disappointed. There is no shortage of shocks; one immediately scary part is where Bateman chases his regular prostitute around a hotel room with a terrifying chainsaw sound. Christian Bale's performance is another great thing about this great movie; he perfectly catches Bateman's rise and fall with excellent acting skills and awesome narration.

Both hip and cool, American Psycho is an underrated little movie that deserves praise.

Armageddon (1998)
10 out of 24 people found the following review useful:
Well-Made, Misunderstood Sci-Fi, 6 April 2001

On a rating scale of 0 to 100; I gave Armageddon a score of 74.

If you are making an explanation of the ingredients that an 100/100 film would need, it is best not to use Armageddon's flavours. But, if you are making an explanation of pure entertainment at it's best, then Armageddon is a great example to use. This film opened up to the world as a major blockbuster with Razzie potential from some critics. However, some movie-goer's, like myself, happened to enjoy this film, and as a shooting star of a moneymaker, Armageddon soars high in the universe.

A giant, global-killing asteroid, like the one that killed off the dinosaurs 65 million years ago is 18 days away from hitting the Earth. NASA's been caught with their pants down and needs a new plan to stop the rock. They enlist the help of Harry Stamper (Bruce Willis), an expert deep core driller, to train their astronauts and help them drill into the asteroid and plant a nuclear bomb. But Harry figures the astronauts can't be trained in time and opts to go with his own oil drilling crew.

To get the flaws over and done with, Armageddon is sometimes too far-fetched that it becomes a little bit laughable, and Bruce Willis' character, Harry, is the hero. He isn't likeable one bit, unlike Willis' former heroic gun-aimer's and space travelling characters. But those things are quite minor, and great performances from Liv Tyler and Ben Affleck – especially Tyler, as the beautiful and Earthly young girl who sends her two most important men into sport – make up for Willis' half-effort. Also, a star-studded cast supports the three stars, including the never bad Steve Buscemi, giant Michael Clarke Duncan, the calm Owen Wilson and the weirdly watchable William Fichtner. All these actors play their roles well, and each have more faith in the story than some of the other main stars alone. Michael Bay controls his crew well, and he works excellently with the special effects team to create a stunning view of space, and some awesome blasting sounds that will unnerve you.

Armageddon is not as bad as you may of heard, and even though it isn't Best Picture material, it is still an excellent form of entertainment, a film that is able to mix romance, thrills and full-on adventure nicely and without struggle.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Adds nothing new to Disney's version. A largely unfunny and uninteresting remake., 29 March 2001

On a rating scale of 0 to 100; I rated "101 Dalmatians" a 37.

This remake was pointless. "101 Dalmatians" is just you sitting through Disney's "One Hundred and One Dalmatians" again, except it isn't good and it isn't original. "101 Dalmatians" is not a new film, it is the same as Disney's except its live action, but is that a good thing? Well, the answer is a very serious no.

Fashion designer Anita (Joely Richardson) and computer-game writer Roger (Jeff Daniels) meet, fall in love and marry along with their Dalmatians Perdita and Pongo. But the proud dogs' puppies are kidnapped by Anita's boss Cruella De Vil (Glenn Close), who is stealing young Dalmatians to make the coat she has set her heart on. Enlisting the help of the British animal kingdom, Pongo and Perdita set out to find and rescue all ninety-nine pups from their fearsome captors, Jasper (Hugh Laurie) and Horace (Mark Williams).

In "One Hundred and One Dalmatians", Disney worked hard and allowed the characters to be expressed properly, and Walt showed the evil nature, as well as the good nature, of the characters before banging into the action. In the remake, we get what the names are, we see where they live and then boom - right into the (boring) action! Hooray, that's what we really want, isn't it? No again! We want a good story line and we want to see the characters developed differently, and "101 Dalmatians" has and does neither. We just sit through a one and half hour of trashy dogs-running-away-from-evil-person-and-then-they-bump-into-them-again-so-th ey-run-away-again and so on and so on. Disney's version had a good script to go with the cute animated dogs and excellently drawn sets. Here we have a stunning Glenn Close, cute dogs and some good set decoration. But, where's is the script? Where's the intelligence?

Add to that a boring and unfunny finale and you have a very missable movie on your hands.

Not a spot of originiality on this dalmatian., 29 March 2001

*** This review may contain spoilers ***



On a rating scale of 0 to 100, I give "102 Dalmatians" a 48.

Be aware this review may contain small spoilers, I briefly wrote what happened in the finale.

Is making a sequel out of a remake a good idea? In 102 Dalmatians' case, no it isn't. This is not a terrible film, but it is not a good one either. I actually expected this movie to be worse than it's predecessor, but, hey, it wasn't. It was better. But, that is not even a compliment. It would be pretty easy to beat the standards of 101 Dalmatians, so is this film anything special? No, no, no!

After a spot of therapy Cruella De Vil (Glenn Close) is released from prison a changed woman. Devoted to dogs and good causes, she is delighted that Chloe (Alice Evans), her parole officer, has a Dalmatian family and connections with a dog charity. But the sound of Big Ben can reverse the treatment so it is only a matter of time before Ms De Vil is back to her incredibly ghastly ways, using her new-found connections with Chloe and friends.

Glenn Close is superb in her role of Cruella, that is one very good about the movie, which earns it a higher rating than it otherwise would've got. Add to that a cool theme song and a hilarious finale in which Cruella gets caked, and you may have a good movie. But, what about the originality? You can search this film and find nothing new, nothing much has changed from the first film. And what about the laughs? There aren't any of them until the end, and all the way until the finale, the film overflows with unfunny 'gags' that'll have the audience snoring. Also, no points to Ioan Gruffudd, who wears shorts through the entire film and looked to me like a school boy than a grown adult.

102 Dalmatians earns very, very high on the snooze factor. But, what about the entertainment factor? It hardly makes it to the score I've given it in this review.