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40 reviews in total 
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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
What if...., 4 September 2008

What if someone drew a magnificent picture of you in all your glorious self at the height of your beauty? What if that painting captured your fascination and you wished to forever resemble its beauty that is yourself at that moment? What if your greatest wish was to live forever with that beauty at all cost? That is what this film is about. It hauntingly brings to life Oscar Wilde's tale of young man who becomes obsessed with keeping his vanity and following the heartless advice of his newest charming friend. Hurd Hatfield is simply marvelous as the main character who finds out the cruel reality that a seemingly simple wish can have upon the very soul. He is Dorian Gray man bereft of soul, but forever young in feature and innocent in face. He is surrounded by a sublime cast including the ever aristocratic George Sanders, Lord Henry Wotton, who leaves an indelible mark on the philosophy of the tortured soul that is to become Gray. As well there is the kind hearted artist of the portrait and perhaps closest friend of Gray, Basil Hallward played by a calming Lowell Gilmore. On the other side of the spectrum are the women of Gray's life, the loves of his life, the tragic Sibyl, perhaps Gray's first great love played by a particularly young and beautiful Angela Lansbury with a nice soft voice, and entranced Gladys Hallward, played by a ever charming Donna Reed, who swears eternal love to Gray from childhood, a crush that can't be destroyed by age, literally. The film is greatly well paced with its only shortcomings originating from the convention of some of the haunting score itself. A gem of a film, directed by Albert Lewin that has the right touch of color to its morbid affair.

8 out of 17 people found the following review useful:
Where do I begin?, 18 July 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Where do I begin? The film was hyped ever since reviews started filtering out about Heath Ledger's final performance. The film, as well as his performance, has been lauded. I was slightly skeptical, but still highly anticipating film and my expectations were very high. Well they were met and exceeded. I have to agree with those reviews comparing it to The Empire Strikes Back. It is that equivalent to the superhero genre. The overtones are darker than Batman Begins, which was a great stepping-stone for this incredible and epic storytelling of two masterful nemeses for Batman, The Joker and Two-Face. However, the film did not get lost in the dark and still holds a great sense of humor to alleviate much of the pain of the film.

To begin with, Batman is having troubles carrying over from the first film. The narrows was lost and he is still trying to collect the criminals who escaped including Scarecrow / Jonathan Crane in small cameo appearance, which really was only weak point of the film. For a villain given so much story time in the first film, it felt disappointing to see him carelessly tossed aside here as he was at the end of Begins. I digress on that, matter though as it is overall a minor disappointment. As he is finishing business with Scarecrow it also shown, that Batman has inspired others to follow him in his "vigilante" activities. He is not pleased at this. It is not what he intended when he donned the mask. However, the vigilantes inspired by him are not the real beef.

The Joker and first the mob is the first beef. Batman and Lieutenant James Gordon are cracking down on the mob hard forcing them to launder their money to one man. Pounding them into a corner, this proves most deadly for a city already having major problems. Into this deadly net waltz the ultimate in chaos theory. The Joker, a mad hatter and the anti-thesis of Batman, who not only follows not rules, but also has no qualms about doing what Batman will not, kill and kill without remorse. He is a mad man and sadistic and still one the enigma he is from the comics, something that Jack Nicholson had ruined for him back in 1989. Unlike him, Heath Ledger is aloud to play the role savagely and therefore, cannot be compared to Nicholson's lighter Joker. He is unto a class all his own in the Batman universe. Anarchy and madness that is what Ledger plays Joker as and deftly too, as advertised a complete screwball whose actions have no rhythm and no bounds. He is the showman of the film, but overblown. Still one cannot help but laugh with him as the film goes up to the point when he kills.

While Joker plays the villain of the film, the film offers three main lead heroes whom through the course of the film are tested to their limits by the Joker bound by none. There is the incorruptible Batman, the stalwart James Gordon, and the newcomer District Attorney Harvey Dent. All played just as well as Ledger's Joker making the film are a fantastic film to watch as the four men butt heads. Individually they do it with the Joker as well as together. It is the heart and soul of the film. The three heroes most especially Harvey Dent represent the goodness of Gotham. That is something that is tried to the edge by the Joker. It is through the performances of Christian Bale, Gary Oldman, and Aaron Eckhart that the film flourishes dramatically.

Extraneously on the side, there is the love triangle between Bruce Wayne, Rachel Dawes, and Harvey Dent, but only alongside the main one of the heart of the city and the triangle of Batman, Gordon, and Dent. Above all Gotham is what must survive and that is what Joker makes at stake as much as Ra's al Ghul did in Begins. Therefore, the love story takes a back seat, but it is not overlooked in the 2 hours and 40 minutes that the film runs. It covers a lot of ground with lots of twists and turns and it does not miss a beat and way to tie up a loose end, save for Cillian Murphy's ever suffering Scarecrow.

The technical makeup of the film is equally as stunning as the film story and makes it astounding strong in all respects. Add to that the perfect melding of countless comics and portrayals in the performances here and the film falls into place as the pinnacle the Batman film series has to offer to date.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
A Thrilling Hitchcock Masterpiece, 11 July 2008

Alfred Hitchcock is a genius of a filmmaker whose every film has a daring vision to it even if they are not all as satisfying or as complete as another. This is one of his best about obsession and chance meetings. The title pretty much sums up the plot, which goes that two men meet on a train, by chance, and one of them hatches a plan for murder. It would solve both their problems and be the perfect murder since there would be no motive. Problem is that one is not as obsessed with killing as the other and is in his "right mind" although in a Hitchcock film that is kind of an iffy term as everyone is not quite in their right mind at all times. But it more evident in the man who sets things in motion, Bruno Anthony. Bruno is played with great precision by Robert Walker as a man almost completely unstable, but yet with a great mind about him which makes him highly dangerous as he can mask his insanity very well. Point of most Hitchcock films is what murder is perfect. Everyone gets their just desserts this film has a thrilling way of getting to its conclusion. The triumph of this film, which sets it apart from other fun or intriguing Hitchcock films for me is the everyman aspect of having these near no names star in this film aptly named Strangers on a Train. There is also the fascinating cinematography job done by Robert Burkes, that catches chilling angles of murder and other scenes, which heighten the tension of the film perfectly. It's the logicalness of it all that is intrigues me the most though as Bruno's reasoning seems so sound, quite a twisted character in a Hitchcock masterpiece.

2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
A Visual Delight as Advertised, 11 July 2008

As advertised a visual wonder with the usual wry and a bit whimsical humor to it like the first film. This is one of those comic book adaptations where my only association is through the film, but that is alright. Guillermo Del Toro has a passion for making great entertainment and this is no exception be it that it is a bit wink wink and corny near the beginning with the animatric action and stiff Hellboy, as young boy, look. There is a lot that reminds me of Pan's Labyrinth in here, but I think it is the addition of the latest addition to the team, Johann Kraus, that makes it worthwhile, a good foil at times to Hellboy, the loose cannon. As usual Abe is a great side kick and friend to Hellboy. Their beer drinking scene was tops with the humor. All around this is film to enjoy for its fantastic visuals as well as the wry humor and action. The area it suffers the most in though is the villain department. The villain is not as menacing as the last one and it comes back to the theme of where does Hellboy belong, with these magical creatures, with the humans, in hell watching the world burn? I look forward to the third film though which is implied in the ending from this film.

WALL·E (2008)
3 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
Great Love Story Disappointing Side Story, 27 June 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Usually Pixar wow's me with its story as well as it characters, but the latest tale from the people at Pixar has been a major disappointment in the story department. It is a run of the mill love story with a dystopia setting where man has been driven off earth because they trashed it. A very environmentalist viewpoint which is disappointingly simple for Pixar and in the class of Happy Feet as far as I am concerned with is a death knell normally for me, but it rises above the previous films problems by having a keenly interesting and investing main character in Wall-E. It is the love story that makes this film tick.

The ads focused on Wall-E and hyped the film in that respect the film flourishes. Wall-E is given great meticulous character and detail by the artists. He is the most lovable of all the characters because he is unpolished and has the most nuisances of any character in the film be it human or robotic. He gained his character from being stuck on earth on eternal cleanup. Having only one single companion, an interestingly lovable cockroach, yeah that is a feat unto itself. He cherishes this companionship, but still yearns for something closer and more relatable for himself as he watched Hello Dolly to death. It is the opening exposition about Wall-E that gives the film solid momentum to get through the rest of the rough story as Eva comes down to search for life on the earth, which Wall-E has previously discovered. Her directive takes over from there and then it is simple struggle between machine and character, which is disappointingly uninteresting in itself, but for Wall-E and his determination of pleasing and loving Eva, the film would be a failure.

Eva herself is almost the anti-thesis of Wall-E a pristine new robot with nary a scratch or piece of dust on her design. She is slowly but surely broken down by Wall-E's careful persistence. The love story is beautiful between the robots and surprisingly well design as opposed to the rest of the story with the obese humans and their regimented and sheltered life on an eternal cruise. That part of the story is shockingly overt which Pixar is usually good at avoiding.

The film is great in its references to classic pop culture references with its films and songs. For that and Wall-E and his love story the film flourishes and is one of the best I have seen, but the side story involving the humans and the restart on earth or disappointing simple and blatant. Thus this latest venture from the people at Pixar specifically director Andrew Stanton and co-writer Pete Docter is a mixed bag.

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Hope through the Death, 22 June 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"This is very cruel, Oskar. You're giving them hope. You shouldn't do that. *That's* cruel!" Hope, that is the key to getting through this powerhouse film from Steven Spielberg. He holds not bar on showing the violence surrounding the Holocaust and in that he could have gotten bogged down in despair, but he keeps the pacing a flurry like his most frantic works and creates well-defined character who despite being horrifying to degree, especially Ralph Fiennes' Amon Goeth, offer some glimmer of humanity.

The time is 1940's and the war is gripping Europe and in Poland the beginning of the Holocaust has occurred as the Jews are herded into a Ghetto to live a very limited life for time. Into this time of despair and exploitation comes a showman of sorts, Oskar Schindler who sees an opportunity to make a fortune from the misfortune of the Jews. He first builds a rapport with high officials in the Nazi army, knowing later he will need their support. Next he offers the Jews with something left their option to having hope of some life after the war. He does this with the help of a Jewish accountant Itzhak Stern who becomes both his conscience and his friend. As Schindler is building a well off business off of cheap Jewish labor, SS officer Amon Goeth comes in to jump start the process of concentration camps for the Jews and it is he how heads up the Liquidation of the Ghetto.

The film chronicles the whole journey of all the characters from the start of the Holocaust all the way to the end of the war and it does it expansively and personally taking note of many excruciating situations most often leading up to death. The film is held together by a fantastic timing by Spielberg which mixes grief with hope and death with life. Add to this some of the best performances of the modern age from Liam Neeson as a towering Oskar Schindler, Ralph Fiennes as the odious and delirious Amon Goeth, and Ben Kingsley as the conscience of Schindler, Itzhak Stern, and you have one of the most powerful movies ever made.

Liam Neeson performance is great because it has such a great transformation that he expresses brilliantly and almost brings you to tears by the end. He starts out as an indifferent business man, a profiteer intent on making his fortune. But he ends up getting very close to his works and thus gaining a heart which is broken by the end of the film by the horrors he witnesses. On the other hand, Ralph Fiennes performance offers different strain of powerful as he pulls the string of the evil character as he shows a sadistic taste for killing from the start. When he first arrives in the film he is approached by a Jewish Architect who informs him that they need to rebuild a building because the foundation is not right. He takes a second to look over what she tells him and then and tells his officers to shoot her. Even though her advice he does heed, having them rebuild it after shooting her in the head, he says he could not tolerate dissent. It is terrifying performance as he hides his love for a Jewish maid by repeatedly beating her. Finally Ben Kingsley performance offers the purest of the performances as Kingsley plays the straight arrow, the man ever with the heart from the beginning to the end showing an ever willingness to do what he can to make life easier for his people. He is Schindler's conscience in forcing him to see the hope his enterprise is effecting for the Jews.

The film is shot in a stark grain of black and white thus tempering some of the violence, but it is still extremely potent as the cinematography gets into the faces of the people showing their etched emotions as well as the horrifying deaths of so many. Streets filled with bodies and ash ridden streets.

This stands as one of the most emotionally draining films ever created and is technically outstanding from the powerfully moving cinematography to the softly straining score by John Williams and the towering performances.

Kurosawa does not disappoint in this bloody adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth, 21 June 2008

Kurosawa does not disappoint in this bloody adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth. The set pieces are large and exquisite as well as having large suits of armor on Taketori Washizu for large portions of the film. Washizu is the main character, Macbeth, and played brilliant by the ever energetic Toshiro Mifune. He plays the character brilliantly as he falls from his strong willed self into a man crazed with his own destiny and the prophecy of evil ghosts. Equally as good is Lady Asaji Washizu, played by Isuzu Yamada, who takes more initiative in her husband's advancement than he does at first.

The film takes a bit to get going as the main character is not even seen for the opening portion of the film, but once advancements in his position start happening it builds up speed to the bloody conclusion. It truly is a throne of blood by the end of the film.

8 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
A Good Old-Fashioned Adventure Film in the Vein of the Previous Films, 22 May 2008

This delivers in spades what any Indiana Jones film should, a lot of action and adventure. It is not as original as the first film nor as grotesque as the second film not to mention the corniness involved in that film. I guess the third film might be an apt comparison except it does not include the normal batch of villains and includes no father figure like Sean Connery played. Instead, the new ingredient of this film and its running fuel is a much older Indy and a fun ensemble of new and old characters. Chief among the returning cast members is lovable Marion, Indy's first love in the first film Raiders. Technically, she is not the first I guess although I am not sure about the time-frame of the fiasco that happened before Raiders. Anyways, the point is that is great to have a great strong female cast member opposite Indy in this film, which adds lots of fun to the film with their fun banter.

Chief among the new cast members are Cate Blanchett as the Russian psychic foe who is every bit as tough, smart, and determined not to mention a bit thick in the head as most of Indy's previous foes. Blanchett over plays her role perfectly and makes for a fun villain who we do not mind getting the obligatory gruesome demise. On the side of the good, there is also a very big new comer in Shia LaBeouf as Mutt Williams a greaser at the start who morphs into something much more. He makes up some of the more agile required stunts as a student of Indy to some degree. It offers a lot more opportunity for action than in previous films as Indy does not have to do everything.

Ray Winstone in this film gets an interesting job as well as Mac, Indy's sidekick at the outset of the film, but then he morphs into somewhat of an enigma as to where his loyalties lie. He offers some of the robustness missed in Sallah's absence as well as providing some more overplayed scenes like Blanchett. In the department of old friends, Winstone is joined by John Hurt, as Professor Oxley, and Jim Broadbent, as Dean Charles Stanforth. John Hurt's role is much larger than Broadbent's as Oxley actually joins in the adventure although he is half crazed for the majority of the film muttering in a trance. It is overall a nice grouping making the film more of an ensemble piece than most of the previous Indiana Jones films, which are primarily Indiana Jones' show.

This brings up things for circle to the main character played by stalwart Harrison Ford, Dr. Henry Jones Jr. Ford is as ever perfect in the role, but he is definitely showing his age in this film with the white hair and wrinkled skin and slower movement. Therefore, it appears more as if he is passing the torch to LaBeouf through much of the film, but never feeling quite certain about letting go of his cherished pastime of being shot up and beat up by the bad guys. Going on outrageous adventures and finding outlandish and supernatural artifacts. As such, it makes for an intriguing film, as it is not know until a good way through what is the relationship and where these characters are going to end up.

The film is good old-fashioned adventure film in the vein of the previous films, but I sincerely hope this is the final film because there is a point to which you carry the legend and mythos of a character like Indiana Jones and this film carries a fine line with that legend. Even so, if you just do not want to over think the film and enjoy it with all its overblown action especially LaBeouf flying through the trees with the monkeys, you should enjoy a great thrilling adventure which is what was advertised. Although I did miss one other item, an outstanding new score to add to John Williams other memorable scores from the series including the Main Theme from Raider, The March of the Slave Children from the Temple of Doom, and the Scherzo for Motorcycle and Orchestra from the Last Crusade. I could not remember a great underlying score to this film other than the main theme motif played regularly throughout.

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
A Fun But Quite Changed Version of the Story, 20 May 2008

Andrew Adamson's latest adaptation of C. S. Lewis' Narnia trilogy is a fun but quite changed version of the story. The main characters are a little bit older than in the previous film and new-comer Ben Barnes is much older than his counter-part as written in the novel. Thus the dynamic of this tale is greatly different than the novel by virtue of the change of one of the main characters alone. There is more friction between Prince Caspian, Barnes' character, and High King Peter, William Moseley in slightly better portrayal this time around, as each try and lead the troops. There is also an added romance between this "dashing" looking Prince and Susan. Not so welcome changes to book purists, but they do allow for more action and perhaps the director got tired of working with kids who knows. Personally it's a change I can live with given the simplicity of the story in the novel and the flavor of the first film which was a bit too kiddish. This film is darker and does not waste time jumping into its tale which is both a plus and minus as not exposition is given for Caspian's character or his teacher which makes it appear a bit rushed. On the plus side is the action occurs much sooner.

Speaking of action though, I felt the film tried too much to incorporate action just for the sake of action with all these changes to the plot not really furthering all that much, but just adding fluff for a longer running time. On top of that some of the climax action sequences were unnecessarily slowed down at certain points for "dramatic" effect which did not add anything. They felt cheesy. Mostly I am referring to the fight between Peter and Miraz. I do not know how it could have been better, but it felt awkward. Still the action in this film overall was better than in the previous film and due in large part because of the improved sword play of the Peter and Edmund.

The story itself is nice and clean like the first film which makes for a good fantasy film with a beautiful setting. The children are back in the magical land they discovered in the first film and brought back by Caspian to help him win back his thrown for himself and the forgotten inhabitants of Narnia who have been invaded by a foreign force, humans called Telmarines. The children find Narnia once again in poor state like the first time they arrived last time, but this time they have history to call upon to their aid and again they have to learn the lesson of faith. There is also an underlying theme of mercy being good which was good.

The characters like in the book were quite colorful with the standouts being Reepicheep, the mouse who is swashbuckling bundle of courage and honor, Trumpkin, a dwarf with little faith and a bit of a pessimist but strong to the end, and, of course, Prince Caspian. Each character was pretty well fleshed out as they needed to be for this film, some for those familiar with the books will know there will be time for more expounding of character later. Aslan too makes a timely appearance leading to some of the more amazing sequences of the film as in the most visual stunning of the film.

The special effects were also nice and crisp not a very telling increase over the first film, but there seemed to be bigger set pieces with bigger effects required. Standout sequences for me included the water spirit like Triton and the trees coming to life.

All in all the film was good continuation of the series although there are a few major changes that did not sit well with me, I was pretty much pleasantly surprised on the whole with the enjoy ability factor of the film. And it did have a nice story with a good message as expected from a C. S. Lewis novel adaptation no matter how watered down it becomes. The children have improved from the first film and the action was more intense as well leading for an all around good experience, but the film fails to top the predecessor in story values and strength so in all I would say it achieved a nice success out of one of the weaker and shorter books of the series.

Predator (1987)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
An Adrenaline Pumped and Testorerone Driven Action Film, 10 May 2008

Arnold Schwarzenegger is Dutch, the ultimate soldier, and Kevin Peter Hall is the Predator, the ultimate hunter species in the universe. This film is the result of these two fighting machines meeting up in the middle of the dense jungle of Central America. It is adrenaline pumped and full of testosterone driven action and simple characters. I mean that in a good way. There is not much doubt about the plot. It is a simple mission of extraction for the government with the usual red tape of it being something else, but what makes the film unique is the addition of the curve ball of the alien being who is invisible and slowly stalking and picking off each of the highly advanced commando unit.

It is here that the film has it's greatest strength as Arnold, at the peak of physical prowess goes up against the biggest and among the ugliest aliens you have seen. To have to highly powerful characters go at it fantastic for the film as it gets the most action as possible out of these two large hunters. The Predator relies on stealth for the majority of the film which give it the advantage for the ¾ of the film, but when Arnold is on his own and figures out the Predators weakness the roles are reversed for a bit of the ¼ part of the film where the playing field is evened.

John McTiernan does a great job balancing the views as he creates some suspense for the first half by not showing the creature itself but his silhouette in the jungle foliage behind its cloak of invisibility. He even shows quite a few shots from the point of view of the Predator who seemingly only sees in infrared which gets even worse when he takes off his mask toward the end.

The film is an action packed thrill ride, which has plenty of action and plenty of one liners from the ever marble mouthed Arnold who can say the line, "Get to the chopper!" like no other. None of the sequels can match this film for its action or even storyline as Predator 2 has a weaker hero and seemingly weaker Predator.

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