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1. Ed Wood
2. The Deer Hunter
3. The Shining
4. The Royal Tenenbaums
6. The Straight Story
7. American Beauty
8. The Triplets of Belleville
9. Fight Club
10. The Sixth Sense
12. House of Sand and Fog
13. The Man Who Wasn't There
14. Punch-Drunk Love
17. Before Sunset
19. As Good As It Gets
20. The Corporation
22. Run Lola Run
24. The Truman Show
25. Full Metal Jacket
26. Living in Oblivion
28. Lost in Translation
29. A Night at the Opera
30. Spirited Away
31. Pulp Fiction
33. Citizen Kane
34. The Producers
35. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
36. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
38. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
39. Bowling for Columbine
40. Boys Don't Cry
41. The Lion King
42. Forrest Gump
43. Nowhere in Africa
45. Kill Bill: Volume One
46. Fahrenheit 9/11
47. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
48. Friday Night Lights
52. Strangers on a Train
53. Double Indemnity
55. Garden State
56. 2001: A Space Odyssey
58. Back to the Future
59. The Graduate
61. The Hulk
62. Young Frankenstein
63. Rear Window
64. Ghost World
66. About a Boy
67. A Mighty Wind
68. Dirty Pretty Things
69. The Music Man
70. North by Northwest
71. Broadway Danny Rose
72. Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me
73. The Closet
74. The Others
Sin City (2005)
Sin City: 9/10
I wasn't really cognizant of the release of Pulp Fiction, as I was at the age of six. But I can see how it could have changed the history of cinema and how it effected the times. And when fanboys all over the USA heard about Sin City, based on three of Frank Miller's cult graphic novel series, they all clamored that it would be the next Pulp Fiction. Why would these people say that? Maybe it's how the ads plastered "Guest Director Quentin Tarantino" all over the place. Or maybe it's because it has a similar "neo-noir" style. Or maybe even the three-intersecting-storyline aspect. Whatever the case may be, Sin City turned out to not be the next Pulp Fiction. But it's just about as cool.
Sin City's comprised of three stories which all take place in Basin City, or Sin City, where prostitutes and hit men are rampant all over the streets. In "The Hard Goodbye," Marv (Mickey Rourke), after sleeping with Goldie (Jaime King), finds her dead and goes on a rampage to avenge her death. In "The Big Fat Kill", Dwight (Clive Owen) helps out a bunch of prostitutes reclaim the streets from the cops. And in "That Yellow Bastard", Hartigan (Bruce Willis) goes to find Nancy (Jessica Alba), whom he saved years earlier from a man who's been colored yellow (Nick Stahl) after Hartigan...rendered him useless. Actually, there's a short fourth story as the bookends to the movie from "The Customer is Always Right" with Josh Hartnett.
If there could be one clichÃ© phrase to describe Sin City, it would be "style over substance." Shot almost entirely in black and white (save for some well-placed color images), and with computer generated backgrounds (like Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, except people saw Sin City), it looks great. It looks almost exactly like Miller's graphic novels, including some segments with pen-and-ink graphics to completely replicate Miller's novels. Anyone who dislikes Sin City says that it didn't have enough story. But when you see the trailers, you know that this is what you're getting. You're getting the best-looking movie of the past few years. It's better than all of these so-called "advancements" in CGI. It does for visual film-making what Peter Jackson's Braindead did for blood.
Of course, there's also no denying the absolute...coolness of the plot. It's a complete guy's movie: every female character is either a prostitute, stripper, has a nude scene, or a combination of all three. All of the guys have guns and kill and torture people. It's almost like an old-time Western, or something like that, except with more blood and female nudity. The way that the plot is connected is done in a very cool way, with a little connection between them all. And we can't forget about director Robert Rodriguez's ultra cool direction. With Rodriguez, there's never a dull moment in the film. It's a non-stop ride, which is already getting me excited for Sin City 2 and 3.
All of the actors were great in portraying their tough-as-nails characters. The standouts, though, were Owen and Benecio Del Toro (who was also in "The Big Fat Kill"). They're just the coolest characters, played by two of the best modern actors. Their standout scene is the scene that Tarantino directed, with the two of them in a car. That scene can basically sum up the whole movie. It's absurd, violent, weird, and absolutely bloody fantastic.
My rating: 9/10 Rated R for sustained strong stylized violence, nudity and sexual content including dialogue.
Although it was a moderate success, no one really remembers Ice Age (although there is a sequel to it coming out). The studio combination who did that movie now have done Robots. They obviously must have read my Ice Age review, with my criticism of the humans in that movie, because there are none here in Robots. Instead, Blue Sky creates characters that basically look like whatever they want. And I have to say, it's a big improvement.
Rodney Copperbottom (Ewan McGregor) is a lower-class robot who is made from hand-me-down parts. He, along with most of the other robots, look up to and idolize Bigweld (Mel Brooks), the friendly, helpful leader of the corporation that makes all of the robot parts. Rodney decides to invent something and show it to Bigweld, so he goes to Robot City to try and meet him. However, Bigweld has become reclusive and the company's been taken over by Ratchet (Greg Kinnear), an evil robot. Rodney's taken under the wing of Fender (Robin Williams), a bum of a robot, and his friends, who include a smattering of pseudo-celebrity voices. Rodney has to go find Bigweld, stop Ratchet and his evil plans, and go deeper into an amazingly animated world.
Animation's basically staying the same these days. Ever since Toy Story, studios have gone with the "if it ain't CGI, don't make it" strategy, and it's seemed to hold up well box office-wise. Robots is a CGI animated film. And it's not as groundbreaking animation-wise as, say, Shrek was. But the sheer complexity of the film completely overwhelmed me. There are a few sequences that are just breathtaking, such as the public transportation in Robot City and Bigweld's dominoes. During those scenes, you just think to yourself, "Why aren't other movies this fun?" And that's all Robots is-fun. It's a simple movie that can be enjoyed by kids and adults. Not only can everyone enjoy the visuals, but the script (by those bad boys of comedy Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel) has both adult and child humor (such as "making a baby" and the onslaught of fart noises, respectively).
People have also said that Robin Williams adds a lot to the comedy, which is a total lie. Williams has been going downhill ever since his magnum opus Mrs. Doubtfire, and Robots is here to prove it. Williams seems to just keep on talking and talking without really knowing what he's saying, and most of it isn't funny. Luckily, there's an amazing supporting cast to pick up his pieces. Although McGregor's accent comes and goes, there's Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent (playing a woman), Brooks, Amanda Bynes (although I'm not sure if that's an asset to the movie...her lines just seemed embarrassing), Drew Carey, Jennifer Coolidge, Paul Giamatti, Kinnear, Stanley Tucci, Dianne Wiest, Harland Williams...the list goes on. The superb cast really adds a lot to the movie. They play off of the animation, and the combination works really well.
Have I any complaints, you ask? I would have liked to have seen more, but it's an animated movie, not Apocalypse Now. Also, at the end, there's the obligatory huge dance scene at the end. If there's a more blatant rip off of Shrek's unnecessary dance scene, I haven't seen it. Still, though, Robots is a true family movie, something we haven't seen for a long time.
My rating: 8/10 Rated PG for some brief language and suggestive humor.
Did you see Exorcist: The Beginning? Neither did most people, but I found it to be a creepy drama with great acting and terrible direction. Francis Lawrence's Constantine is the opposite: there's terrible acting and good direction. Both are similar to each other in plots: they're both supernatural thrillers about demon-fighters. They both also star actors who are pretty cool, and both movies are pretty creepy. That's why I liked both about the same.
John Constantine (Keanu Reeves) tried to kill himself when he was younger and was literally seconds away from death and going to Hell. As an adult, he wants to get into heaven, and tries to do that by sending as many demons back to Hell as possible. He meets Angela (Rachel Weisz), whose twin sister committed suicide, and Constantine has to go and figure out what happened. Things get hairier, and there's Pruitt Taylor Vince. Need I say more? Constantine had a budget of about $100 million, and it shows. There's a lot of great images here, and about half the budget obviously went to Venetian blinds. The movie looked great, mainly thanks to Lawrence, who debuted with this movie. The opening scene, in particular, sticks with me. It's a typical scene that seems to be in all heaven/Hell dramas (an exorcism), but Lawrence's spin on it is truly unique, and makes it quite exciting. The movie is enthralling through its typical runtime (any comedy is 90 minutes and any drama/thriller is 120 minutes, no questions asked), and oftentimes quite exciting.
No one will doubt that Keanu Reeves was amazing in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. However, ever since that, everyone's realized that he can't really act. Stellan Skarsgaard in Exorcist was a lot better. Still, Reeves is pretty cool as Constantine, and you need to be a certain cool for this movie. He may not be the best actor, but he's cool nonetheless. Weisz does a pretty good job, too. Djimon Hounsou, the breakout star from that mediocre movie that everyone thought would win a bunch of Oscars but ended up flailing In America, shows up as a paranormal...guy...thing. His role's not really explained, but it's pretty cool (as is the guy's who lives in the back of the bowling alley). And Pruitt Taylor Vince.
People will dismiss Constantine as just a simple February release, trying to ride the coattails of Exorcist: The Beginning or something like that. Don't believe them. Although hardly original, Constantine is an enthralling, entertaining two hour thrill ride. And there's Vince.
My rating: 7/10 Rated R for violence and demonic images.
Meet the Fockers (2004)
Meet the Fockers: 8/10
Can you remember all the way back to 2000? Julia Roberts stole her Oscar from Ellen Burstyn, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon opened the door for mainstream foreign movies, and Meet the Parents was nominated for one-only one-Oscar: Best Original Song. No Best Supporting Actor for the toilet-using Jinx the Cat. No Best Director for the scene where the human waste flies onto the house. Meet the Parents was robbed, I tell ya! Well, not really, but it surprised many people, especially skeptics thinking that Robert De Niro couldn't do comedy. Obviously, they were proved wrong, and therefore there were no surprises when Meet the Fockers came out. Except that this movie also featured Dustin Hoffman in his latest role (his fourth of the year) and Barbra Streisand in her first role since God knows when. Actually, strike that. I was surprised by Fockers, because I actually liked it. A lot.
Gaylord "Greg" Focker (Ben Stiller) and Pam Byrnes (Teri Polo), whose marriage was approved by Pam's parents Jack (De Niro) and Dina (Blythe Danner) in Parents, now have to go to Greg's parents before the wedding. The straight-laced Byrneses are in for a surprise when meeting Bernie (Hoffman) and Roz (Streisand) Focker. A liberal, carefree Florida retired couple, they couldn't clash any more with the Byrneses (of course, would it be much of a movie if they did?) The two families go through mishaps and misunderstandings, with very funny results.
One complaint I had with Parents is the sheer impossibility of some of the antics. Someone basically burning a house down, and then letting human waste cover the yard? Not only is it improbable, it's also crude. Focker only really had one scene of toilet humor (literally), and other than that, it was all slapstick or wordplay. Very funny slapstick and wordplay, I might add. Hoffman and Streisand play amazingly well off each other and everyone else. The casting of those two is probably the best casting choice of the year. This may be Hoffman's best role since The Graduate-no lie. The completely off the wall way he plays Bernie is great and really works well for the movie. In fact, all of the performances are great.
Not only that, but it's also funny as hell. It's mainly the typical zany mishap comedy, but there's a lot of great dialogue, too. The addition of a baby, Little Jack, added a good amount of humor (adding to the minor "breast pump" issue of the first movie). But LJ seemed to just be a necessity, to show that, yes, the two movies are different (as if the addition of Hoffman and Streisand weren't enough). Still, the laughs were constant and strong, something that can't really be said about almost any other comedy that's come out within the past five or so years (except for, of course Parents). Although I've been so tardy with my reviews (and I saw Fockers late in its run), I'd really suggest this movie. If you liked Parents, you'll like this one even more.
My rating: 8/10 Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, language and a brief drug reference.
Hotel Rwanda (2004)
Hotel Rwanda: 8/10
Whenever anyone mentions the Oscar-nominated (and hopefully winning) Hotel Rwanda, they (present company included) feel obliged to sing a parody of The Eagles's "Hotel California". Both are rather similar, actually. Both deal with destruction, whether it be small or massive, as is the case with Hotel Rwanda. I knew little of the Rwandan genocide (all of my information had come from a 6th grade teacher-her son was in Rwanda during the aftermath). Although movies can never not have a bias, I feel like seeing Hotel Rwanda was necessary in learning about something I otherwise wouldn't've. Plus, there's Don Cheadle.
Cheadle is Paul Rusesabagina, the owner of a high-scale hotel in Rwanda for rich white tourists. During this, the Hutus and Tutsis are in the middle of a genocide, leaving no one out of danger. Paul and his wife Tatiana (Sophie Okonedo) open up their hotel to any refugees (whether they be Tutsi or Hutu), as Nick Nolte comes in and attempts to shake off the heroin he shot up during the filming of The Good Thief.
Hotel Rwanda shows the true inhumanity man can have onto man. It opens up the door for people to examine how people treat each other. Showing how personally brutal this genocide was to the Rusesabaginas, and how it should have been to everyone else. The movie did an outstanding job of yelling at us Westerners for not really caring about Rwanda at that time (and we still really don't). There's not really much I can say on this movie. Everything stands out about it, especially Cheadle. If he wasn't up against Jamie Foxx for the Oscars, I'd root for him. But then there's the case of Sophie Okonedo. I really don't know what bugged me about her, but it just ruined the movie for me. Instead of this toweringly powerful film, it's just a very good one because of Sophie Okonedo. I really don't know what it was, but I recommend you see it and tell me.
My rating: 8/10 Rated PG-13 on appeal for violence, disturbing images and brief strong language.
Million Dollar Baby (2004)
Million Dollar Baby: 9/10
Million Dollar Baby is propaganda by the baby-killing liberals. As is every movie dealing with a controversial issue, especially ones made by those ultra-liberal people at Warner Bros. and that staunch Democrat Clint Eastwood. It seems like the only part of movies people talk about is the ending, even in crappy movies. Supposedly, prints of Hide and Seek were sent out without the final reel, so no one would know the ending until the time came (as if anyone cared). Remember the furor around The Sixth Sense's ending? Everyone knows it now, and if you're not careful, you'll uncover the ending to Million Dollar Baby-a true shocker, if there ever was one. It's unexpected, realistic, and powerful. Try getting that from Hide and Seek.
Hilary Swank (in what is sure to be her second Best Actress Oscar role) is Maggie Fitzgerald, a trailer-park wanna-be boxer who joins up in has-been Frankie Dunn's (Clint Eastwood) gym. Frankie has somewhat of a misogynist attitude, but agrees to train her, anyway. She rises through the circuits of boxing very quickly, and, although reluctantly, Frankie starts to admit that she's a good boxer.
Before I saw Baby, I thought for sure the Academy would finally give the best director award to Martin Scorsese for his mediocre work in The Aviator. But now, I think Eastwood's almost a shoo-in for Best Director. Eastwood frames each shot carefully, and creates the most drama possible from each one. Something that really stood out for me was his use of color. Oftentimes bleak, but always for a purpose, to elict some sort of feeling from the audience. Eastwood uses the minimum of, well, everything possible to make the mood as dreary and unwasteful as possible. And, much like Raging Bull (directed by Eastwood's current rival), the boxing scenes are completely realistic. Except you can tell Eastwood didn't cheat at all (like Scorsese probably did), as this movie is full color, and the boxing scenes build up so much tension it's almost impossible to believe. Million Dollar Baby has both that and the dramatic quality, which ranks it up with the top films of 2004.
The bigger question at hand is this: whodathunk that within five years, a relatively unknown actress will have had two roles of a lifetime and win best actress in five years. Swank was amazing (although not as amazing as Chloe Sevigny, who was robbed) as Brandon Teena/Teena Brandon in Boys Don't Cry, but better here in Million Dollar Baby. Her character is so determined, such a strong spirit basically rising from nothing, and Swank portrays Maggie extremely well. I guess she'll make Annette Bening lose again this year.
Is Million Dollar Baby the best picture of the year? No, mainly because in the last twenty or thirty minutes, it just drags on and on. The message and plot are clear, yet it continues to reiterate it over and over again. We know that the person wants to do something, and another person doesn't want that to happen, but seriously, do we need that extra fifteen minutes of no substance? That's the only complaint I have with this strong, strong movie. What's even better is that it's PG-13, meaning anyone can see it, which they should.
My rating: 9/10 Rated PG-13 for violence, some disturbing images, thematic material and language.
Coach Carter (2005)
Coach Carter: 8/10
Samuel L. Jackson can do no wrong (unless it involves a movie with the number 51 in it). Whether it's Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, or even XXX, Jackson always gives off an aura of "cool"-anyone would want to know him or be him in any of those characters, no matter how wrong the character was. The same holds true for his titular role in Coach Carter. Although it's not one of his "bad-ass" roles, he comes off as a cool person with a moral core. Ken Carter is the only character audiences can identify with, and therefore we go along with his actions, and understand his motives. Not only that, but it's a refreshing break from these Disney-produced "These people can do it, so so can you!" sports movies. Instead, it's a hard-hitting, tiring adventure through the true story (what else) of a Northern California town and their trials and tribulations.
Ken Carter (Jackson) is hired as the coach of an inner-city basketball team. They're a great team, but lack discipline and academic skills. Carter instigates a vigorous lateness policy (thousands upon thousands of warm-up exercises), and then locks down the gym when the team fails to maintain a 2.3 GPA. Carter handles all controversy handed to him in the typical Samuel L. Jackson manner.
Although unfairly compared to Remember the Titans, the two movies couldn't be any more different. Titans had Denzel Washington (who's nowhere near as cool as Jackson) in a sugar-coated movie about racism. Coach Carter IS racist (about a dozen or so n-words...where's Spike Lee on this one?), and there's no real message, except that knowledge is power (somewhat). Being that Carter's PG-13, unlike Titans's PG, it can get away with much more, with a more developed story. There's a lot of subplots, including drug deals and teen pregnancy. It's great to see such adult topics dealt with in a teen movie (well, it's somewhat like a teen movie). And it's not slammed down our throats, either. It's presented, and we take what we want out of it.
Not only that, but we're able to identify with Carter and his actions. Although they seem (and are) extreme, we can understand where he's coming from. It's like Kurt Russell's insistence in that one (the only good) scene of Miracle. Plus, there's Samuel L. Jackson, who can make everything except Formula 51 a gem. Plus, there's the fact that I saw the movie over a month ago, and don't really remember much from it. But it's surprisingly great for a January release, and one you should at least pick up on DVD.
My rating: 8/10
Rated PG-13 for violence, sexual content, language, teen partying and some drug material.
In Good Company (2004)
In Good Company: 7/10
There are three things you should never discuss with your barber: politics, religion, and the better of the two Quaid brothers. While most would probably say Dennis (present company included), don't give Randy the chop just because he hasn't hit a good role since the Vacation movies. But Dennis is becoming a less popular, less successful, less attractive Jude Law (he's been in four movies this year). The only one of his that became a large hit was The Day After Tomorrow. He, however, leads a talented cast in a movie by a talented writer. Paul Weitz (who, along with his brother Chris, made the American Pie movies and About a Boy) seems to have a knack for making "old people" movies (my God...I've never seen so many elderly people in a theater since I saw Closer!). Not that there's anything wrong with that-his movies deserve to bring in some bank.
Dan (Quaid) is an advertising executive whose company is taken over by Ted Turner, er, Teddy K (an uncredited Malcolm McDowell). Dan's demoted, much to his dismay, as his third child's on the way. Dan's new boss is Carter (Topher Grace), someone half his age. Through twists of fate, Carter winds up at Dan's house for dinner one night and meets his oldest (college-age) daughter Alex (Scarlett Johansson). They fall in love (behind Dan's back), and soon it becomes a battle of the class, so to speak. Is it truly age before beauty? There's something about In Good Company that was just a little bit off. It's hard to put a finger on it, but I think it's the lack of one central plot. It goes from Dan's demotion to Carter's takeover to Carter courting Alex to another corporate takeover, without much connecting it all. The story's probably one of the most plausible of 2004, what which this topsy-turvy economy, and the movie's hitting it close to home. The characters in In Good Company are pretty realistic. Dan's the average American dad who's going through the hell of putting money together for colleges. There's one part where I think Quaid's character wasn't consistent. When Dan's youngest (soon to be middle) child is on the phone with her boyfriend, Dan picks up another phone and makes a threatening comment, something I couldn't see an average parent doing. Carter is more defined and easier to see into, but is also a more challenging one to play. Quaid's a much more accomplished actor (I mean, come on...Cold Creek Manor AND The Alamo back to back?), but Grace seems to not do this just for the paycheck.
However, In Good Company didn't really have much of the humor that About a Boy or American Pie had. Company had a simple story, and some simple humor. It's not very complicated at all, one of those movies you can sit back and enjoy watching. It's not going to tax your brain, you'll have a few small larfs or two, and you may learn something about yourself. Well, probably not, but it beats doing crack.
My rating: 7/10 Rated PG-13 for some sexual content and drug references.
Fat Albert (2004)
Fat Albert: 7/10
Although I live in the suburbs of Philadelphia, I don't often go into town, especially into North Philly, where Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids hung out. Nor had I seen the TV show, but having grown up with the golden age of Nickelodeon with All That and Kenan and Kel, I almost religiously follow Kenan Thompson around (well...not really...but he's a young person's Morgan Freeman). He's kinda been in limbo since Good Burger (based on an All That) skit, until he got onto Saturday Night Live, and now he's here as Fat Albert. As I've said, I've never seen the show, so I can't comment on the authenticity of the whole movie (in fact, before the movie, all I knew of Fat Albert was that he was a Cosby creation and his patented "HEY HEY HEY!"), but I think I got the gist of Fat Albert's modus operandi of helping others.
Doris (Kyla Pratt) is a lonely kid in North Philly (wouldn't that mean that she goes to the Philadelphia school district? Yet the computer to kid ratio is 1:1?) whose sole solace is watching her favorite show every day, "Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids". She's so upset that she begins to cry, and as her tears hit the remote control (I'm being serious here), Fat Albert (Thompson) and his friends jump out of the TV to help her solve her problems. Not only do they marvel at recent advances in technology (cans with the opener on them, rap music, etc.), but Fat Albert falls in love with Lauri (Dania Ramirez), Doris's half-sister. Fat Albert and his friends need to find the root of Doris's problem before they fade too much-the consequences of being out of the TV for too long.
Critics could dismiss Fat Albert as simple family entertainment, when it's really much more than that. Well, not much more, but still more than one'd expect. Instead of being one of those "farts for the kids, sex for the adults" kids movies (like Shrek 2), it's strictly tasteful humor, some the kids will laugh at and adults can enjoy. For example, kids will like the skateboarding mishap that Fat Albert goes on, and parents will laugh at the fact that Fat Albert's a fast runner, as per the TV show. Neither go over the heads of the other generation, and one can laugh at the other. It's this kind of humor that is sorely missing from cinema today. When Finding Nemo's "funniest line" is about "touching the butt," you realize that family movies are needed, not kids' movies. Fat Albert is a family movie-a simple message wrapped around light-hearted situations that everyone can understand and enjoy.
I'm sure the biggest question people ask is if Thompson is right for the role of the live-action Fat Albert. The answer is-yes. As I've said, I've never seen the TV show, but he seemed to have watch his fair share of the show. Supposedly, some of the characters were not very similar to the characters on the show, but the characters seemed to fill the daunting roles well (such as the aptly named Dumb Donald and Mushmouth). But when you have a silly, simple show like Fat Albert, you don't expect everything to be exactly the same (which is one of the reasons why I'm both looking forward to and dreading the Simpsons movie). Kids won't have seen the show, anyway. But that's not really even the important part of the movie. What's important is that the movie's funny and has a simple message for kids, both parts it fulfills. There were a few "mayhem=humor" moments, but even the rap scene wasn't bad. It's silly, it's fun. And the message is easily accessible for kids: be yourself. It's a message that's reiterated over and over, but it's an important message.
My one large complaint is how director Joel Zwick (who brought My Big Fat Greek Wedding to an obscene gross) seemed to treat this movie as a movie for adults (Greek Wedding was rated PG but was certainly not for kids). The way he moved the camera and tried to do a bunch of "nifty" camera tricks made the movie feel like it was in some sort of cinematic limbo-a family movie, yet somewhat of an Oscar contender or something among that caliber? But other than that, Fat Albert is a fun family movie. You may end up liking it more than your kids.
My rating: 7/10 Rated PG for momentary language.
The Aviator (2004)
The Aviator: 7/10
I can't really talk about Martin Scorsese's directorial credentials, as I've only seen three of his movies: Raging Bull, Goodfellas, and The Aviator. All of them have the same rating-why is that? Maybe it's Scorsese's inability to keep those movies under two hours (The Aviator clocks in at about three with previews), or since those three movies dealt on real people, did Scorsese and his screenwriters get their life stories wrong? Whatever the case is, they're all good, but maybe I'm just not able to appreciate everything Scorsese does. It's been two years since Leonardo DiCaprio's last role in Catch Me If You Can. He's not what everyone made him out to be after Titanic; he's no longer just an idol of teenage girls. Instead, he's proved himself to be a fine actor, one that's perfect to play Howard Hughes.
In the beginning of the movie, Howard Hughes (DiCaprio) is working on directing a huge epic movie. We have no backstory to him, which may have caused trouble later on. There's no telling of how he got his massive fortune, but I digress. He works for three or four years on his picture Hell's Angels, making it the most expensive movie at that time. The movie follows Hughes through his his tumultuous movie career, pioneering aviation career (such as buying TWA), his relationships with Katharing Hepburn (Cate Blanchett) and Ava Gardner (Kate Beckinsale), and his insanity (spoofed brilliantly on The Simpsons, I might add). You'll also see Jude Law as Errol Flynn (in his sixth, and final, role of late 2004).
For its almost-three-hour runtime, The Aviator seemed to go by rather quickly. We have the great Howard Shore score, which is sometime mixed with music from the era, to create an odd-but interesting-effect. Scorsese's direction is great in some parts, but not in others. In the crash sequence, Scorsese finds ways to build up the tension (although the interior of the houses we see look quite late-1990s...), even though we know there's still at least an hour to go in the movie, yet when it comes to the tail end of the movie, when we see Hughes in all of his insane glory, we don't really see how he progressed from a mid-case OCDer to this completely delusional psycho. It's a complete transition. Although we do get a sense that Hughes is becoming more mentally unstable, it's just completely from left-field, and maybe instead of 15 minutes of showing how different he is from the Hepburn family, Scorsese could have showed what pushed him over the edge or something like that.
The movie looked pretty good. The cinematography was pretty good; it's probably the one Oscar that this movie is a shoo-in for. There's DiCaprio's acting, which'll be nominated, but won't win (obviously, Jamie Foxx for Ray). DiCaprio obviously studied Hughes and his mannerisms, and does a good job pulling him off, but can anyone compare him to what Hughes was really like? Acting out someone who no one remembers (personally) is kind of a cop-out for not having to do a top-notch acting job (see, Foxx didn't have it that easy for Ray Charles). Yet he still did a good job, and threw off any lingering "King of the World" thoughts that people had about him. Blanchett is quickly rising on my favorite actress list-this and The Life Aquatic back to back, great in both. There's John C. Reilly, who's a good actor, but whose voice is so damn recognizable it's hard to consider him a powerhouse actor. And Alec Baldwin. Remember when, in South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut, the Baldwins' house, and everyone was happy? They were happy because Alec Baldwin couldn't play a character named JUAN! That's like Johnny Depp playing Fat Albert. It just doesn't work.
The Aviator is an entertaining movie. Sure, it drags for a bit, and is unnecessarily long, but it's never boring. It's by no means the year's best biopic (that goes to Ray), but it's an entertaining one.
My rating: 7/10 Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, sexual content, nudity, language and a crash sequence.