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YAWN - how lame. Oooh, thunder and lightning and big dark hospitals are so scary! Oh look, there's a murdered ghost who wants justice done, but instead of just appearing to someone (like say, her dad or the cops) and explaining the situation or leading them to the evidence, she invades a woman's body and drives her to commit a grisly murder. If you're a ghost, how can the person you are contacting in the hope that they'll find out who your murderer is, do you any good if they're locked up in a mental ward for murder themselves? Couldn't the ghost just leave the lady clues, or communicate with dreams or something? Anyway, this movie was so bland and predictable, there ain't nothin' here that you haven't seen before in a hundred other, MUCH better horror films. The Ring, The Sixth Sense, The Exorcist, Stir of Echoes, Poltergeist, The Changeling, Candyman - all of these movies are examples of much better vengeful ghost/possession stories. This is just mediocre crap, so I wouldn't waste the time or the rental fee if I were you. Halle Berry has got to be the most overrated actress ever...I don't watch many of her films but if this is a typical example of her acting, then I haven't missed anything. All she does is scream and cry through the whole film. There is absolutely no logic or thought put into this movie..there is nothing believable going on here AT ALL. Penelope Cruz is just annoying...not to be mean but I can kind of see why Tom Cruise broke up with her. She has a squeaky little voice and a really thick accent, plus she looks like a vulture...sorry. Anyway, there is really nothing good here, even Robert Downey, Junior is annoying, and the ghost is lame and hardly does anything. The movie also loses points for bombarding me with Fred Durst's screeching at the end, as if the movie wasn't bad enough without that. Please - PLEASE, avoid this mess.
Love Liza (2002)
I really wanted to like this movie because I really like P.S. Hoffman and Kathy Bates, but I just couldn't get into it. I understand that Hoffman's character (Wilson) was devastated by his wife's suicide, but he just goes so off the deep end that I wondered if perhaps he was always emotionally unstable. There seem to be hints given throughout the movie that his wife's suicide may have had something to do with him, and his mother-in-law seems to be worried about this possibility as well. But instead of finding anything out about the relationship or the reasons for the suicide, we get to watch Wilson mope around and huff gas and freak out in public. The whole time he's carrying a letter from his wife that may have the answers as to why she committed suicide, but he refuses to open it. When he does, it doesn't really answer any questions after all. The whole thing is pretty pointless; you care for the character at first and get a sense of his pain and confusion, but you don't really get much of a story. His actions also don't really make much sense, I mean why huff gas? Surely he could afford something better, even if it was only alcohol? Why does he get up and go to work when he's in mourning - why wouldn't he take some time off? Also, his friends seem pretty cheerful around him, as if they had no idea what had happened. And unless I missed it (which is possible, of course, since I found myself drifting pretty soon into the film because there are so many scenes with nothing happening), we don't even find out HOW his wife killed herself. It's just really incomplete story-wise. Anyway, avoid this movie as both Hoffman and Bates have done far better movies and you should just check them out instead.
Punch-Drunk Love (2002)
Adam Sandler rules!
I know it's not very cool to like Adam Sandler, but who cares...I happen to think he's funny as hell. So when I heard that he was doing a serious role, I wasn't sure if he'd be able to pull it off. But he does a wonderful job with his character, though of course the movie has its flaws.
Barry Egan is an unlucky young man who has seven sisters who routinely tease, torment, belittle and humiliate him. As a result, he seems to have about a dozen emotional disorders. He's one of the most sympathetic characters I've ever seen. He's an outsider, and who hasn't felt like an outsider at some point in their lives? Well I for one have, and still do at times, so I can definitely relate to him. He doesn't seem like a stupid guy (he runs his own business, takes care of himself and all that), though he often comes off as dim-witted to others. He just seems in a way to be easily flustered and upset. He frequently has outbursts of rage that he can't control because of his inability to communicate with people or to stand up to his sisters. He's surrounded by people, but he is completely unable to understand them or to make them understand him, and so he lashes out. I agree with a previous reviewer that he seems almost autistic in his behavior, especially when he whispers to his brother-in-law that he needs help because he doesn't like himself, he has crying fits, and he doesn't know how other people are. He has a piano that he rescued from the street in his office, and in moments of stress, his hands automatically reach towards it for comfort. Out of loneliness he calls a sex hotline that turns out to be a scam and he is being constantly harassed by a group of thugs who now know where he lives and are extorting money from him. In the middle of all this, he meets a woman named Leena, and an instant connection is formed. She is calm and serene, she listens to him instead of shouting at him, she laughs at his jokes, and she doesn't seem to mind his weirdness. She seems to be the only person who has ever been able to understand him. Her affection gives him the strength to stand up to his overbearing sisters and the harassing thugs as well.
It's just a lovely story, if you can get past the two major flaws, which are the the weird scenes where there is nothing on the screen but a bunch of trippy, swirling colors, and that horrible "He Needs Me" song. The song was bearable at first and sort of comical, but after about three or four minutes (or however long), it started to make me want to scream. Other than that, this is a really good movie. The performances are great all around and Adam Sandler is wonderful as Barry. The rest of the music is perfect; it really helps you to feel the tension and panic, or the joy that Barry is feeling. The cinematography is also gorgeous. This is definitely a movie I would recommend, but if you are an Adam Sandler fan, please watch with an open mind. Don't rent this expecting to see another Billy Madison, because this is a different type of film.
Hell Asylum (2002)
What a pile of puke. (Possible spoilers!)
Hell Asylum is the story of a down-on-his-luck TV producer who want to make a reality show about hot chicks being forced to face their worst fears in a haunted mental hospital that was closed down long ago. He gets permission after groveling for Joe Estevez for a while, and then he picks the girls and brings them to the asylum, where everyone gets picked off one by one by ghosts in black hooded robes who pull spaghetti out of their victims chests and eat it. That's pretty much the whole movie...idiots doing the stupidest things possible and annoying you to tears before they get slaughtered in disgusting, cheap, fake-looking ways. It's only like an hour long, which is good since it's so worthless.
Boy is this awful. I was expecting it to be awful but I at least hoped it would be awful in a fun way. But this is just no fun at all, it's mean-spirited, ugly and dull. The characters are unlikable and stereotypical and you just want to punch them. There's the Sassy Black Chick (the first to die, of course), The All-American Blonde, the Slutty Blonde, the New-Agey Goth Chick, and the Ambitious Wannabe Star. They are all completely annoying and unsympathetic. You just spend the whole movie waiting for them to get picked off. The "Asylum" looks like a high school and isn't scary at all. The ghosts are laughable. Just don't bother watching this, it's crap.
The Order (2003)
Thank goodness I didn't pay to see this one. My eyes were literally glazing over about twenty minutes into this waste of film. Heath Ledger is unconvincing as a twenty-something hunk priest who is a member of some outcast order of the Catholic Church (yeah right!). His previously excommunicated mentor dies mysteriously and so he has to track down the sin eater, a guy who absorbs the sins of excommunicated people in a freaky ritual. Or something like that, truthfully I was too bored to care. There are a couple of demon children wandering around, but what their purpose is is never explained. Nothing in this movie is ever explained. The love story is boring and not the slightest bit moving, the sidekick priest is boring, the sin eater and the evil priest are boring. The special effects are stupid and boring. The whole movie is just boring to the point of tears. Also, the dialog is so low and the actors mumble so much that you can barely hear what the heck they're saying. Do not ever see this movie. Don't rent it and please don't buy it unless you are an insomniac who would like to get to sleep without pills or alcohol. That's the only way this would be worth a purchase.
The best movie ever made!!
This movie is as amazing as it was expected to be. I've seen it three times now, and it takes at least that many viewings to take everything in. This is the movie with everything - adventure, romance, horror, tragedy, great acting, great special effects, beautiful music, costumes, and scenery. All the rabid Tolkien fanatics who criticize this trilogy need to get a grip on reality. There is no way anyone on earth could ever put every detail of the books onto film. No one even had the guts to attempt to get it on film until Peter Jackson decided to dedicate years of his life to the project. He and all the actors and crew worked their butts off to get this extraordinary work done, and they did a wonderful job. It's as close to perfect as you will ever get, so why don't you quit whining and enjoy the films for what they are. They are historic pieces of cinema and will be treasured as classics for many years to come. They will lead many people to read the books so they can learn more about these beautiful characters that so many of us have come to love through watching the films. I can't begin to tell how much Frodo, Sam, Gandalf, Boromir, Merry, Pippin, Aragorn, Legolas, Gimlee, Theodin, etc., have affected me. I feel like these characters are my friends, or at least they make me wish I had friends as true as these. I am really looking forward to reading the books so I can spend more time with them.
Anyway, to all the critics, if you think you can do a better job than Peter Jackson, I wish you'd try. I would love to see it.
Rose Red (2002)
Nothing too original here, but it's fun if you like Stephen King, or bad movies, or both.
*There may be spoilers in here somewhere*
I was a huge fan of Stephen King in my teenage years, and I still think he's written some of the best pieces of horror literature EVER, from huge novels like the Stand and It to short novels like Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption or even short stories like Lady Fingers. But anyone who's read Danse Macabre or any of his countless interviews knows that he doesn't take himself that seriously when it comes to movies. Sure, every now and then a Stephen King movie comes out that actually remains faithful to the story it was based on and manages to be great. The Stand, The Shawshank Redemption, Stand By Me, The Shining, and IMO, Pet Semetary as well, are examples of this. Pet Semetary didn't have the greatest acting, true, but it was pretty faithful to the book and let the truly frightening story come through, so it worked (for me anyway). But then every now and then King cranks out a silly, B-grade cheeseball either written for the screen or based on one of his lesser novels or short stories. Thinner, Sleepwalkers (a favorite of mine from long ago), The Mangler, and Creepshow are all examples of this, and there are quite a few more. If you're a King fan, you'll know that he enjoys cheesy horror movies, like so many people do, and so I don't see why people watch every movie he puts out as if it's destined to be the next The Stand. I think everyone needs to relax a little bit and just have fun with his films, instead of expecting too much.
Now, about Rose Red. Fans of Stephen King will also know that he is a big Shirley Jackson fan, and a fan of the haunted house genre. This miniseries is a blend of stories like The Haunting of Hill House, The House Next Door, House of Leaves (a newer one but I would say just as good as Jackson's novel), and several other stories about houses that are somehow wicked or warped from the time of their construction. I agree with some other reviewers that with such great inspiration to draw from, this could have been a good horror film, but only if it had been made for the big screen. As a miniseries, however, it's stretched out too long and there isn't enough character development or creepy stuff happening to justify a four hour running time.
Anyway, in Rose Red we have the standard professor/scientist/doctor character who contacts a bunch of psychically "gifted" people and offers them money to spend time in a huge, notorious haunted mansion so that they can wake up the presence there and record proof of life beyond the grave. Nancy Travis plays Professor Joyce Something-or-other, and at first she seems okay, but by the middle of the movie it's obvious that she's completely obsessed with waking up the power in the house and doesn't care who gets hurt, so she isn't very likable. Travis goes a little silly and over-the-top with her acting. The young girl who plays Annie is really pretty and isn't too bad an actor, but the character isn't very likable because she tends to sling huge rocks and axes at you if you make her mad and she doesn't seem to be too sorry about it, either. Melanie Lynskey is good, I like her as an actress, but her character is stupid. In fact, all the characters are stupid and are constantly making the worst possible decisions, even the likable ones. Julian Sands as Nick and Matt Keeslar as Steve Rimbauer are also good and do the best they can with their roles. Emery and his mother are annoying scumbags, but Emery seems to transform into a really nice guy at the end, which isn't very believable. The rest of the characters are completely forgettable.
Every cliche ever used in a haunted house movie is in this one. We have the house built on an Indian burial ground by a ruthless millionaire businessman; his young bride who comes to make her home and start a family there, but is beset by tragedy and dies vowing revenge on the world (or whatever); the voodoo servant woman who is the young bride's companion; as well as the crippled child. There is really nothing original or spectacular about this movie at all. It's not going to make you miss any sleep or turn on all the lights at night. The special effects are pretty badly done as well, although there are a few creepy moments here and there. There's also a Stephen King cameo, and those are always fun. He looks like he's having a good time, and that's really all I think this movie was meant to be - a cheesy horror movie for people who enjoy that sort of thing and don't expect too much out of a television miniseries about a haunted house. It could have been edited down quite a bit, true, but there is always the fast forward button if you get too bored in between the fun parts.
Recommended for King fans and people who love B-movies. Everyone else should skip it.
Gin gwai (2002)
A decent little horror film
This is a good little Asian horror film that I would definitely recommend renting or even buying, if you like foreign films. A young blind woman receives a cornea transplant and soon finds out that she got way more than she bargained for when she starts being visited by some very unhappy dead souls. It's not very original, true, but the acting is good, the lead character (played by Angelica Lee, is that her name?) is adorable, as is the little girl who plays Ying Ying; there is some serious tension and dread here, especially in the first half hour. The scene in the hospital hallway had my skin trying to crawl off my body, as well as the "Why are you sitting in my chair?" scene. We're talking serious chills. Some of the music IS a bit cheesy and over the top, but hey, you can't have everything, right? The scenes where we see through Mun's eyes in the first few minutes are very effective; we know someone is standing there, we just don't know who it is, and we feel her fear and uncertainty. Not the best movie ever made, but it's definitely worth seeing.
Before I close, I would like to respond to the attitude expressed here by some people that American films are all stupid, and that American filmgoers are all drooling idiots who have to see a throat slashed every few minutes in order to be engaged by a movie. When you make comments like that, you really show how ignorant you are when it comes to American cinema, as some of the finest movies ever made came right out of Hollywood, and no they aren't all slasher films or mindless teen comedies. But then I'm sure you folks already know that, you just want to feel intellectually superior to others. I enjoy a good foreign film, and so do many Americans, but just because they're foreign doesn't mean they're perfect. They have flaws just like any other human effort, so please get over yourselves and try to watch movies with an open mind, because you'll enjoy them much more that way. That's just my two cents.
Watch this movie, it's good.
Bruce Almighty (2003)
Don't listen to the bad reviews
Wow, what a surprise - a Hollywood film that portrays the Jewish/Christian God in a positive light (and he's black! I know that's gonna cause a lot of problems with the fundamentalists!)
I was a bit worried that it would be blasphemous and irreverant, and that at the most I would get a few guilty laughs out of it. Much to my shock, it turned out to be a wonderful movie. Jim Carrey does a great job portraying Bruce, a man whose life isn't going as well as he thinks it should. He blames God for every one of his failures in life, and some of the things he says COULD be considered blasphemous, but this story is really about a man who starts off thinking that money, job status, and the recognition of his peers is what life is all about. However, throughout the course of the movie, and through his meetings with God, he learns what's really important in life, and of course these things are: a relationship with the Creator, love, compassion, and selflessness. Bruce goes from a self-pitying jerk who thinks that God and the world owe him something, to a kind and caring man who puts others before himself. I know that in today's jaded, "me first" kind of world, a movie with a message like that isn't going to impress people (and that's pretty sad, when you think about it), but instead it's going to be called "lame", "preachy", "corny", "sappy", and a million other derogatory terms. Well, if you are a person who doesn't really care about majority opinion, then you will see this movie in spite of the bad reviews and decide for yourself, and you may even enjoy it. On the other hand, if you're a person who is easily swayed by critics, or overly religious (yes, that's possible), or someone who can't enjoy a film that lacks a nihilistic, cynical message, then avoid this because you will hate it.
I know I'm buying the DVD.
Final Destination 2 (2003)
I liked the first Final Destination because it wasn't the typical teen horror movie, although it wasn't perfect (no movie is). It had a little bit of a story and had quite a few creepy moments. The deaths were sudden and violent, but for the most part they weren't excessive. I had hoped that Final Destination 2 would continue with these traits, but it seemed to be just an excuse to show people being constantly splattered, burned, smashed, ripped, crushed and impaled very graphically. This is not scary, it's just makes the movie hard to watch for some people. I was entertained by the movie because it was fairly fast-paced and because it's fun to pick out all the mistakes, illogic, stupid dialogue, continuity lapses, etc., but I really don't care to see guts and heads flying all over the place. I understand that this is sometimes necessary in horror films, but really, can't we leave SOMETHING to the imagination anymore? All the best horror films have a message or a moral that they are trying to get across to the audience, however crudely executed it is, and that message is the focus of the story. But in Final Destination 2, and similar movies that emphasize blood and guts over plot and atmosphere, there is no message to be taught. It exists for no other purpose than to glorify death and carnage. I don't understand why some people find graphic portrayals of people getting sliced and diced amusing. At least in a movie like, say, Evil Dead, people are taken over by evil spirits that are bent on murdering everything in sight, and they HAVE to be killed in gruesome ways. FD2 is just full of nice people, who have done nothing more evil than avoid a car accident, getting destroyed in the sickest and most painful ways possible. There's no satisfaction in that, it's just sick and mean-spirited. So while it is entertaining, FD2 is definitely not a must-see movie. If you like bad movies, there are plenty out there that are way more entertaining than this one, without all the senseless gore.