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Favorie Movies: Star Wars Saga
My rating scale:
6= Not bad
5= Almost decent
4= Not very good
1= Pure crap
Children of Men (2006)
A solid sci-fi adventure, but not the greatest 7/10
If I rated movies based only on visuals and technical achievements, Children of Men would be one of the greatest movies ever. The single take action sequences are flawless in execution and near-future Britain looks amazing. Everything from the cars to the bombed-out buildings, to the beautiful locales is great. Also, the concept of an infertile human race is intriguing and original.
However, i failed to make a connection with any of the characters, making it harder to really care what happens to them. I haven't put my finger on why i didn't care for the characters. I think it's because they didn't seem real enough to me. They seemed very written. Clive Owen did a fine job in the leading role and i actually did care a bit about him, and Michael Caine was kinda fun, but other than that, the characters seemed like they didn't even care that they found a key to to saving humanity.
Perhaps on a second viewing, which i am totally not against, i'll see something i missed and make a more emotional investment in the film. Until then, I'll watch V for Vendetta again. 7/10
Casino Royale (2006)
A great rebirth of 007-------8/10
"What? A blond guy playing James Bond? Time to riot!"
This was the sort of sentiment that was commonplace when Daniel Craig was announced as the next generation James Bond. At the time i didn't think he fit the mold for 007, either. I must say i stand corrected and glad about it. He did a great job because of one thing: I believed him as James Bond. Now they could have gotten any white, black haired actor with an English accent to play Bond and he may or may not have worked out. But Craig made you believe he was Bond. Thats really all i wanted. Now bring on the action!
The backbone of any great 007 movie is the action sequences. Even the action from the Connery days still hold up well (check out the underwater battle in Thunderball). Casino Royale is no exception. It's got an explosive chase at Miami Airport and great fight scenes in Monte Carlo and pretty much everywhere Bond goes. But the standout scene is a heart-stopping on-foot chase between Bond and a bomb maker played by free runner Sebastien Foucan, who puts on one of the most agile and athletic action performances since Ray Park in The Phantom Menace. He bounces off walls and jumps from huge cranes and always lands on his feet. This is one of the coolest action scenes ever. Period. And also watch for the most cringe-worthy torture scene i have ever seen. There's no gore or anything but you will feel this man's pain.
Another staple of Bond flicks are the beautiful women. This on has more than enough with Eva Green's excellent performance as Bond's match Vesper Lynd, and the stunning Caterina Murino as the obligatory bad guy's wife, Solange. And of course Bond gets to bed them both.
Now as much I enjoyed Casino Royale, it did have a few setbacks. The bad guy, Le Chiffre (played perfectly by Mads Mikkelsen), is a great villain but i thought his exit was sudden and unsatisfactory. And after that, the movie doesn't really have a climax. The whole third act actually suffers from not having a definitive bad guy and gets a bit predictable. However, a lot of people complained that the poker scenes take too much time. I found them to be exciting, fun, and very well done.
At any rate, i am glad to say that Casino Royale is a great rebirth of 007. He is the classic Bond, but a little rough around the edges, more ruthless, and more vulnerable, which i think will make for a great new series of 007 films. Welcome back, Mr. Bond. 8/10
Thank You for Smoking (2005)
The best comedy in years. Smart and hilarious!---8/10
While everyone is referring to Thank You For Smoking as "That tobacco industry movie", i think that is very misleading. It is more about a good guy who has a despicable job that he takes very seriously. He is a spokesmen for Big Tobacco, and it's his job to tell the truth, and make it as publicly acceptable as possible. That is were the movie shines. It is not pro-smoking or anti-smoking. It really isn't about smoking at all. It's about how people spin the truth to become more politically correct. Not only does Big Tobacco do it, newscasters do it, corporations do it, even the government does it (duh!).
The heart and soul of the movie is Aaron Eckhart's performance as said spin doctor, Nick Naylor. He has such a charming personality and friendly face that he could probably do the job very well in real life. He hits all the right notes in the comedy and dramatic departments. I think he should get an Oscar nod but probably won't. If you have read my other reviews you know how much i dislike the Oscars.
Among the supporters is a great little role from Rob Lowe as a cigarette-friendly movie agent, JK Simmons as head of Nick's company, and Adam Brody as Lowe's assistant. I haven't explained any of the funny parts because they can't be explained and they are very subtle. This not 40-Year Old Year Virgin or American Pie. It's funnier, but quieter.
Anyway, whether you smoke or not, this movie will neither offend nor defend you. It only uses Big Tobacco as a backdrop for it's real message: think for yourself! 8/10
The Departed (2006)
Scorsese returns to the house he built--- 8/10
A few years back i was worrying about the state of the gangster movie. There were tries. Some people did an okay job, some made laughable attempts to emulate classics like the Goodfellas and Scarface. I started to think that with the Sopranos knocking all mafia-esquire stories out of the park, the classic gangster movie may be dead.
Now, the man that helmed some of the greatest gangster movies of all time, Martin Scorsese, returns and adds a cop movie twist. The Departed is loosely based on the Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs, which was a decent thriller with great performances. The Departed however is a great thriller, with amazing performances, all directed by a master of the medium.
The Departed follows two moles; one a cop in the Irish mob, and the other an Irish mobster with cops. Both answer to Frank Costello and Oliver Queenan, the mob boss and the head state trooper, respectively. As each find out about each other, they enter a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse as they race along the body littered streets to blow each others covers. Now, i know it sounded like the back cover of the latest Wesley Snipes movie, but The Departed is a gripping, exciting, and star-studded epic.
The most instantly appealing part of the film is the amazing ensemble cast that includes Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack Nichcolson, Mark Wahlberg, Alec Baldwin, and Martin Sheen. They all do an amazing job but never though i would say this; I officially forgive Dicaprio for his crimes against cinema. While Jack steals the show of course, Leo turns in an incredible performance, becoming the character you actually care about the most. His intentions are well, but the act of betrayal is wrong and has consequences no matter what, and thats what Leo brought to the table. Matt Damon handles his rare bad guy role really well, and Jack Nicholson rivals Joe Pesci in Goodfellas for being both hilarious and terrifying.
Martin Scorsese knows how to use his cast to tell the story in the best way possible. This story, at it's core a straight-forward thriller plot, could have been handled by any director and made a good movie that you would forget in a few hours. Scorsese, however, puts the characters first, haunts you with their mentalities and their ultimate fates, and creates an unforgettable film. Welcome back, Marty. 8/10
X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
Don't believe the Ratner haters! X3 might be the best mutant-fest yet!----8/10
While most people will have you believe that X3 is crap compared based on the fact the Brett Ratner isn't as universally praised as Bryan Singer (director of the first two X movies and The Usual Suspects), i can tell you the Ratner's kinetic and fast-paced style makes "The Last Stand" a little different but just as good as the other X-Men films. I had heard of all the reasons TLS was getting negative buzz. Let's go through a few of them and i'll tell you what i think (if you care):
-Too many mutants, not enough depth- I thought all the mutants was a good thing. Many appearances and they all got some action. The only real thing you need to know about the characters is who's side their on and what their power is. If everyone of them had a backstory, the film would clock in at about 5 and half hours.
-Bad acting, writing, and directing- This movie has the same actors who give the same great performances they always did, especially the great team of Sir Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart. The writing is smart and funny like always. The action is done well, especially the huge final battle.You have a destroyed Golden Gate Bridge, flying and flaming cars, needle shooting grenade launchers, and a huge swinging blue furball. Some dramatic scenes hit all the emotional targets. There were some cheesy moments, but it's a comic book movie.
-Some characters die- So? That makes it exciting. You don't know who is gonna drop next.
-Lame ending- Are you serious? The ending with Magneto is the best ending of the year, signifying that all is not back to "normal". And stay tuned after the credits, for one of the best epilogues ever.
Sorry, i'm not seeing what people are complaining about. If Bryan Singer directed this movie the exact same way there would be no complaints. Brett Ratner knows how to make entertaining movies (Rush Hour, Red Dragon) and people need to get off his back. (By the way Brett, i'll pretend like After the Sunset never existed.)
Catch the movie in theaters, forget what you heard, and enjoy for yourself. 8/10
One of the best horror/thrillers since The Shining, and possibly the best ending ever-----8/10
Saw crept up on us like Jigsaw creeps on his victim. Completely out of nowhere but not easily forgotten. The movie starts of in a large bathroom where two men are chained up and a dead man is lying between them. They don't who each other is or how they got there. The script by Leigh Whannell (who also plays one of the captives) is ingeniously clever and very twisted especially when showing different victims in various booby traps and deadly. My favorite is the guy that is locked in a room with numbers all over the wall. A taped message tells him there is poison in his veins and that the antidote is locked in a safe in the room. The combo to the safe is hidden in the numbers on the wall. However, the room is dark and he has to use a candle, but his body is smeared with a flammable goop. Oh and there is broken glass shards on the floor. Now only a truly sick individual can come up with something like that. The movie really isn't as gory as many people believe, but it wouldn't make a difference in a movie that actually relies on mystery rather than horror. The whole movie is really solid, but the part that makes the movie a highly rewatchable classic is the brilliant ending. I promise you will be shocked at the ending. Even after the third viewing it had my heart pounding through my chest. This movie also kicked off an interest in me for independent films. They seem to be made with more TLC than most Hollywood stuff, but of course since this movie made big bucks at the box office it is turning into a franchise with two sequels in two years. Neither will be as entertaining as the original and not too many movies have the ability to make you watch it over and over. Bravo! 8/10
Bold and worth watching, but significant flaws keep it from masterpiece status---6/10
Munich takes a bold look at the MidEast conflict by examining the 1972 Munich massacre and it's aftermath. Steven Spielberg, widely revered in both Hollywood and the Jewish community, puts his neck out by (finally) criticizing Israel and it's politics, if just a little. Israel would make you think it's an anti-semitic film, but in actuality it is a fair look at the pros and cons of both political views. Eric Bana and Daniel Craig lead a Israeli assassin squad ordered to hunt down and kill all those responsible for the killing of 11 Israeli athletes. While the movie has some really exciting scenes and tries to be fair, it is way too long and sometimes seems lost, like it doesn't know which direction it wants to go next. Spielberg could have easily trimmed a half hour of fat off the film. There were some really good scenes in the movie, but they were few and far between. I commend Spielberg for taking risks and giving Palestinians a few moments in the movie to speak; i just wish he packed up all the good stuff in a tighter package. 6/10
V for Vendetta (2005)
V is an A+!-------8/10
V for Vendetta is the first film in 2006 that i will fondly remember by 2007. It is a thought-provoking and action packed vision of a totalitarian future Britain, but it could easily be any other country. The story is different and exciting, the action is violent and not watered down like most action flicks of late, and the performances by the excellent cast is great. Hugo Weaving takes the cake, even though he is behind a mask the whole time, with his cool voice and ass-kickery, and Natalie Portman is amazing. She is one of the best actresses in the world today, and she proves it by being tough and beautiful (even after having her head shaved) and hitting all the right emotional notes right on target. The last 30 minutes of the film is one of the most exhilarating scenes i've ever seen in a movie theater. At the movie's climax i was nearly standing. The visuals and sound are top notch and boost the overall experience. If you can, see this movie in theaters for one of the best rides in a long time! 8/10
Mission: Impossible III (2006)
A solid action picture to start the summer season-------7/10
The 2006 summer season kicks off to a pretty good start with the release of Mission Impossible III, the last(?) installment of the billion dollar grossing franchise. Tom Cruise, who's name is becoming synonymous withe the word "blockbuster", reprises his role as IMF agent Ethan Hunt, this time tracking down an arms dealer played well by recent Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman. The action and thrills are non-stop, even though some are hit or miss. The beginning and ending action sequences are somewhat blah, while the middle is chock full of fun and exciting scenes, especially the infiltration of the Vatican. My biggest gripe is that the start and end are not up to par with the rest of the film. They seem more like a TV episode, with the set up of the bad guy and the spic and span ending. Still, this is a great flick to catch in theaters since this summers slate isn't that great besides X3 and Pirates 2. This mission will self-destruct in 5 seconds. (Sorry i always wanted to say that.) 7/10
A powerful and intelligent eye opener. One of the year's best.---8/10
In the congestion of big budget blockbusters, formulaic horror flicks, and unnecessary remakes that 2005 was choked with, Syriana is a breath of fresh air. Centering on the oil industry's impact across the globe, Syriana doesn't really tell us anything new, but still tells an exciting and fascinating story. Intertwining stories include a Persian prince's bid to beat out his brother in taking the throne, a CIA agent uncovering the truth about his career and his agency, a lawyer trying to negotiate a merger between two oil powerhouses, an energy analyst trying to overcome a tragedy, and a young Pakistani man who is let go of his job at an oil plant and gets involved with an extremist group. Most critics think the stories are too confusing and too numerous, but each is important to the big picture and if you pay attention, the movie isn't that hard to follow. And once you understand it, you will be rewarded with one of the best told stories in a long time.
The cast is top notch with George Clooney giving the performance of his career. Gone are his suave looks and witty lines, replaced by a scraggly beard, beer belly, and an unsure-of-himself demeanor. Scene stealer Alexander Siddig portrays the headstrong and sincere prince with a quiet explosiveness, and Matt Damon is better than i thought he would be as the energy analyst. Chris Cooper, Jeffery Wright, Christopher Plummer, and Tim Blake Nelson are just a fraction of the excellent supporting cast. Writer/director Stephen Gaghan makes an outstanding debut (i am not counting Abandon only because i haven't seen it) with one of the best movies of the 2005, and one of the most important films in years. 8/10