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Enjoy reading, writing, gaming, and biking. Hate anime, like animation. Its a vicious cunundrum
The closest sensation to having a chest burster rip out of you
This movie is bad. I just want those four little words to set the groundwork of everything I have to write here. In fact, that quick phrase is so indicative of Aliens vs. Predator Requiem, that it bears being written a second time, with empashis:
This movie is BAD.
In fact, this film is so god-awful, gouge your eyes out, brain numbingly horrible that it actually damages the three far superior franchises it bears in its name (Aliens, Predator, and Aliens vs. Predator.) Where to begin with this car crash of a "film" is a tough question, but I figure the casting is as good a place as any.
It would be an innacuracy to say there are no actors in this movie. It would NOT be an innacuracy to say that their talent is next to non-existent. Throughout the entire ordeal (excuse me, "film") the most poignant visual expression born by the cast is a look of blank apathy, one that says "when the hell do I get my paycheck already?" Even when either of the two titular monsters show up and attack, the expression of dull boredom remains transfixed to their Beverly Hills 90210 faces. The dialog drizzling out of said faces is equally dull and cliché'd into oblivion, with standards so low that it makes to first AVP look like The Godfather.
I could go into detail about how abominable the writing is, but I think I just need to say one thing to get my point across: "Writers Strike." There, let's move on.
Of course, as with any movie with "vs." in it's title (minus "Kramer vs. Kramer) actual writing and acting is superfluous to action, which I'm sure many fans (myself included) were expecting at the bare minimum. Unfortunately, even at this, this vile piece of vomit falls flat on its drool ridden, mandible filled face. True, there is ONE good fight between the Predator and a bunch of Aliens in the sewers, for all the three minutes it takes up, and after that, it's right back to the crap. A few more sparsely placed, short fights occur later after that, but they're so poorly lit (a problem carried over from the first film,) and closely zoomed in that you might as well be watching two stray cats fighting over a mouse in a dark alley. For the directing Strauss bros. to claim to be "special effects wizards," you would figure the fighting would be some action packed rock-em-sock-em special effects extravaganza, but no, instead were treated with a bunch of stupid looking suitimation "fights" that are always carefully (read: badly) shot so as to not reveal the wires and cables supporting the stiffly moving monsters. It's so obvious that the studio didn't have enough scratch to afford any good CG effects or fight choreographers, so instead the audience is forced to use its imagination. I actually wouldn't mind that so much if my freaking imagination weren't already blunted by the seemingly endless and horrible human scenes. In fact, I think my cerebral cortex might be irreparably damaged!
On the upside (which, in the case of AVPR, is akin to finding the upside to Chernobyl incident) the film does have a bunch of homages to its source material, ones that may serve as points of mild relief for viewers sitting through this dreck. Sadly, that's about the only positive I can give to this movie, and let me add further that one of these "homages," one involving the predator skinning a guy, actually goes against the plot of the film and screws everything up to the point of cinematic mental retardation.
To those of you who loved the AVP comic and video game series, the future is looking very bleak. This piece of garbage has "Franchise killer" written all over it, with an ending that can only marginally serve as sequel material. My best advice to those who share the unpleasant experience of watching AVPR, break out those comics, video games, and even the first film, and let the nostalgia heal your wounds. To those who haven't seen the movie, I give the same advice I give to kids about drugs.
JUST SAY NO.
Just A Money Making Device
It's hard to be unbiased when you talk about anything with the "Dragon Ball" name slapped onto it. If your a fan, as I am, you'll say it's great, and if your not, you probably won't get it. Understandably so, as DBZ and it's predecessor are both series so filled with twists and turns and a boatload of characters that if your brain isn't wired to hold mountains of trivial information, you probably won't be able to comprehend it all.
However, I think there's one thing that non-dragon ball fans and the majority of Dragon ball lovers can agree on. The sequel series to Dragon Ball Z, Dragon Ball GT, is sub-par, to say the least.
The flaws with this show do not simply stem from the irritating changes made to beloved characters, like making the protagonist Goku into a little kid again and making the beloved Trunks into an annoying pest, the show just...well, it just doesn't FEEL right. The hectic action of DBZ is nowhere to be found in this series, replaced only by tired fight scenes that you've probably seen in a thousand anime series by now.
Perhaps that's the biggest hurdle that GT fails to leap over. DBZ was a cartoon so influential to how action cartoons have been made since the late eighties that the bar has been set too high for anyone to leap over. You can see this in the GT's story lines and villains, who have very little life to them and fall far short of the memorable bad-guys of yesteryear, like Cell or Frieza. Heck, the fact that those two actually RETURN in this series, along with every villain from DBZ and DB, is a definite sign that the writers were "jumping the shark," to coin the phrase.
GT is not a terrible series on it's own, but the fact that it bares the name "Dragon Ball" immediately demands for a high level of quality it just doesn't possess. Many of the characters fans have learned to love are reduced to practical cameos, and none of the bad-guys really feel that threatening. Just because a character says "We've never fought anyone as strong as this guy before" can't immediately convince the audience that that phrase is actually TRUE. In the wake of Majin Buu, easily the most powerful villain in DBZ, (he did blow up the Earth after all) villains like "Baby" or a girly haired version of Android 17 fall far from the mark (I mean, c'mon. Android 17? The guy who Cell ate back when slap bracelets were considered cool?)
I could be nice and say GT had a lot of potential, but I'd be lying a little. Some masterpieces are best left alone, and the Dragonball series was one of them. This pitiful tack-on series is little more than a means to make money, and it wears this on it's sleeve the whole time. There was no reason to create a "Super Saiyan 4," which is really little more than a red gorilla suit with pants, especially when it doesn't follow ANY of the conventions of the previous super-saiyans (Green eyes, gold hair. How do you get a red-furred monkey from THAT?) SSJ 3 IS the ultimate Saiyan form for many DBZ fans, and I'm inclined to agree with them. It's hard to feel respect or awe towards a guy who looks like he wants to pick ticks off his scalp.
To end this little review, only watch Dragon Ball GT for one of two reasons. A, your a ravenous, bloodthirsty, "must complete the series" die hard DBZ fan, or B, you really don't care what cartoon you watch. Everyone else, don't set your hopes up too far. You'll be in for a hell of a disappointment.
Jurassic Park III (2001)
This Dino Franchise Has Lost Most Of It's Bite
There comes a point in any franchise life where the sequels cease to be about good storytelling and become primarily about making money. This tradition goes back as far as Edgar Rice Burroughs Tarzan novels (Mr. Burroughs also wrote the original "Lost World," interestingly), can be seen in more recent series like "Jaws," and makes it's presence known in the modern day with the seemingly endless "Saw" movies.
Jurassic Park III does not break from this tired and true money making ideal, but in it's defense it does aim a little higher than many of its fellow putrid "III" movies. Sam Neilson returning to his role as Alan Grant is definitely a treat, and most of the other actors in the film do a fair job at their respective rolls as well. As is expected from the franchise, the dinosaur CGI looks fantastic (though it still lacks that certain edge that T-Rex scene in the first movie had. Fellow fans will know what I'm talking about,) and there are plentiful scares to be had from the dinosaur islands more voracious inhabitants. Unfortunately however, this is where the good of the movie ends, and the bad starts to begin.
The film opens with a man and a young boy going para sailing (at least I think that's what it's called. It involves a boat, a rope, and a glider, so forgive me if I called it wrong) over a beautiful sea with a tropical island in the backdrop. Can you guess where this is going? Yep, that island is none other than Isla Sorna, Site B itself. What this guy is doing taking his son para sailing next to one of the most dangerous islands on earth is beyond me, and it's one of the weak points in the plot. Which is bad, considering its the frigging OPENING of the plot. As you might expect, something goes wrong, the father and son crash on the island, and the game is afoot.
To sum up the following events for you, the boys mother and divorced former father hire Alan Grant, under the fake pretext that they're owners of a major corporation just wanting to go on a tour of Dinoland, to be their guide of the islands habitat (so they can find their lost son.) Alan takes his "ward" with him, I don't even remember his name (you won't either) and before long the whole bunch is on a flight into the bowels of hell itself. Needless to say, things go the way of a T-Rex turd pretty much after the plane lands on the islands moss covered runway, with half the "professional" mercenaries hired with them dead in ten minutes and everyone is running for their lives.
Major Spoilers!: While the things mentioned above aren't exactly terrible (if not uncreative), than heres a quick list of the things that ARE:
The kid is found alive, after being alone on the island for weeks, without even a sign of psychological damage no less (I know I'd start to go a bit batty if I was alone in a jungle full of murderous reptiles.) Way to be realistic there, Mr. Spielberg. On top of that, the ordeal of fearing for their sons life brings the divorced parents back together (cheese. Alans "ward" is carried away by a murderous tyranodon and is found alive with only a few cuts at the end of the film (super cheese). And to top it off, the marines and half the navy come in just to save the little group right at the end (uber cheese.) The murderous nature that made the velociraptors movie staples in the last two films is pretty has the edge filed down in this film, all in a almost-corny effort to make them seem "smart." Like "Lost World," which tried to promote the idea of dinosaurs being caring parents at the films expense, this film tries to push the idea that raptors were geniuses in dinosaur terms (they weren't, by the way. Most raptors weren't much smarter than a wolf.) The end result is just an unfair robbing of what made the raptors scary in the first place. That cold, merciless nature of theirs.
JPIII is a competent film, and you can see there were a few good ideas thrown in, but in the end, without any inspiration from one of Crichton's actual novels, the story falls flat. It's nice to see some flying Dino's and the Spinosaur is a competent "villain" (though not nearly as scary as Rex,) but other than that, I really wouldn't recommend this film as a must see. If your a major dinosaur fan, go ahead. For anyone else, rent, don't buy.
Invader ZIM (2001)
Destruction is nice!!!!
When I first saw an episode of Invader Zim as a kid, I honestly thought it was horrible. It was so different from anything else I had seen on Nickelodean, with a madcap pacing and a somewhat disturbing aesthetic, that I simply wrote it off as lame and ignored it.
Fast foreword to present day, into the magical land of the internet. On a whim, I watched an episode on TV links, just for kicks.
Wow. I don't think I've ever laughed this hard at a kids show.
While I can't vouch the same support for all of the rest of creator Jhonen Vasquez's creations (JTHM is honestly the most spiritually disturbing comic book I've ever seen) it seems that the odd catalyst of children's programming has allowed Vasquez's dark sense of humor to be portrayed to a wider and more digestible age range. Every thing about this show, from the characters to the design to the dialog, is both fascinating and ferociously funny.
The storyline somehow takes the concept of a viscous, xenocidal race of alien conquerers (Zims species, known as the Irken) and makes it utterly hilarious. The zany and bizarre dialog for the character is so comically perfect that one can't help but laugh. Voice actor Richard Steven Horvitz's portrayal of the loony little would be conquerer Zim fits the character like a glove, crazily spewing out lines that will remain in the funny center of your brain for all time:
"Soon the name of Invader Zim will be synonymous with DOOKIE!!!"
"Enjoy your Meaty fate!"
"GIR!!! Stay away from that power amplifier! Your leaking deadly waves of pure stupidity everywhere!"
And speaking of Gir...good LORD, what a brilliantly insane character! With the a voice that sounds like a Furby on a deadly overdose of cocaine and helium, Zim's pint sized robot helper almost steals the show from his maniacal master, to the point that you'll laugh until you truly do cry.
I can understand why Nickelodean canceled this show, it really does have a greater appeal to pre-teen audiences and up more than the Rugrats viewers the company so readily draws in, but it's a complete shame non the less. Dig up this dusty gem if you can, and prepare yourself to be filled with GOO!!
Transform...and Roll Out
By the time I am writing this, I have just returned from seeing Transformers the movie at my local mall theater, the experience of the film still rolling through my head. After waiting for an unbearable stretch of months since I first saw the movie promoed on the cover of a magazine at a Sheetz, I finally lost my patience, grabbed my bike (since I'm at college, my car's at home) and rode for two miles uphill, miraculously making it to the seven o'clock showing.
And let me tell you. It was worth it.
Transformers is, without a shadow of a doubt, the best summer flick yet. I know that this accomplishment is a bit dumbed down from "The Three Letdowns" (Spidey 3, Pirates 3, and Shrek 3) but this movie holds it proudly none the less. Fast, action packed, and surprisingly funny, Transformers is what going to the movies should be, entertaining, thrilling, and endearing.
That isn't to say the film is without its flaws. Some viewers I expect will find the character development for some of the 'formers to be a little weak, especially for the evil ones. The autobots are well portrayed and even quite humorous at times (especially Bumblbee), and although their voices are noticeably different from their first G1 incarnations, Bay and company have thrown in some clever nods that longtime fans will enjoy (an example being Jazz saying "what's up b####es" when he first transforms.)
As for the decepticons...there isn't much to say. The majority of them don't appear until near the final battle, among them fan-favorite starscream and the decepticon leader megatron, with a snippet of argument being the only indication that the writers understood the long established dynamics between the two characters. Outside of that, the only 'con that receives any major screen time is the pint sized, gibbering, hyperactive spy Frenzy, who, while entertaining in his crack-head like warbling, does leave a lot to be desired in terms of screen presence. The rest of the evil invading robots are basically all identical to one another: evil, angry, and destructive. And, while this is certainly accurate to the basic Decepticon belief system, it greatly neuters all the long established characterization given to them, and that's a bit sad.
In the voice acting department, kudos to Peter Cullen and his victorious return to the part that made him big. Optimus Prime is just as cool as he was twenty years ago, and Cullen's voice actually seems truer to the part with the aging its been through; Prime sounds just like a war general, battle worn and tough. My one complaint is that Cullen seems to have trouble saying things with a "normal" tone, and he can occasionally make prime a bit over-dramatic at times.
In the case of Megatron, Hugo Weaving says the lines with gusto and evil bravado, but with all the synthesizing done to his voice, it could have been Gary Coleman saying the lines when you get down to it. I've often disagreed with Transformers purists in the past, but I will agree with them on this: Frank Welker will always be THE classic Megatron voice, and his absence is certainly felt in this film.
As for the human cast, all of them do a performance that ranges from passable to quite good, but its young Shia Lebouf that definitely steals the show. I was greatly surprised and impressed by Shia's ability to say comedic dialog in a believable, human way, and its this attribute that makes his part as Sam truly endearing. You find yourself liking him, and this is crucial for the pacing of the story. Its no exaggeration that Shia's performance is the linchpin that keeps the film from falling apart, and I can honestly say I cant say that I can think of anyone better for the part. Nice call there Mike.
Transformers is a film that is great in a truly bona-fide way, and I enjoyed it immensely. I should warn parents that, besides the intense action, there are a few surprisingly crude jokes thrown into the skillet, among them the subject of masturbation.
Yeah, it made me pause too.
But aside from that, there's nothing to whine about. Buy that ticket, crack open a box of Mike-n-Ikes and a bottle of Volt, and hang on for the best flick of the summer.
Samurai 7 (2004)
One of the Best Animated Action Series ever.
That's right. I'm not a fan of anime, and I probably never will be. I can understand how others can enjoy it, with the quirky characters and bright colors, but for me, it just stands as a mostly un-enjoyable genre.
As for this series, Samurai 7, a futuristic recreation of the classic black-and-white masterpiece? I absolutely loved it.
Samurai 7, while taking some generous liberties with the original film (obviously there weren't giant mechs raiding villages back in any 30's film) stands on its own as an engaging story that uses top-notch animation and clever translation/writing to keep itself intriguing. The CGI for the numerous robots and the hand drawn animation for the rest of the characters all looks great, though I did notice in the later installments of this series that there were points of animation that suddenly looked sub-par. Don't ask why, my guess is that the better animator got sick or something and they called in a cheap replacement.
But what really makes this series stand out, and is also a feature I feel is desperately missing from the majority of the anime genre, is the simple, relatable humanity of the characters. As with any "team" film or series, which have large ensembles of interacting and different characters, Samurai 7 relies of the simple yet difficult art of human subtlty and foibles to deliver diologue and conflict that is above and beyond most animated features. Even for the characters that are mechanical (I don't believe its ever explained how the people are put in robotic bodies)you feel a definite attachment and understanding for them, and in the process, you care for them.
There are virtually no over the top anime-staple "weird faces," or whatever they're called by anime fans, where an over-the-top emotion causes the face of a character to become "super-deformed." I find this a welcome breath of fresh air, and its absence truly keeps the idea that these are actual people in the story alive, though some odd character designs do occasionally mar the experience, if only for a few brief, forgettable seconds.
As for the action, fear not. Fans of sword fighting hack-and-slash, beat-em'-ups will be well satisfied. Especially between the hand drawn characters, the fighting couldn't be better, with a beautiful mix of "Kung-Fu" and "Samurai-champloo" esquire combat that truly leaves you breathless. My one complaint in this aspect of the series is that the giant mech characters, who are each about the size of a building, seem a bit helpless to the small, faster human characters, who dice them up like cheese at a deli over and over again. Fortunately, as the mech characters are few, this never really bars anything down.
While the visual style may irk Seven Samurai purists, and the storyline is greatly molded to fit this post-war, cyber/steam punk universe the plot is set in, open-minded fans of Seven Samurai and its several spin-offs ("Magnificent Seven" anyone?) will find tons to love, as well as anime and animation fans in general who have never seen the film.
Dig up this vastly underrated series. Trust me, your in for one hell of a ride.
Sonic the Hedgehog (1993)
Way...WAY Past Cool
What I am about to say has absolutely NOTHING to do with the fact that I'm extremely nostalgic about this gem of a cartoon.
This one of the greatest children's shows ever aired.
I was five years old when it premiered, and the moment I saw it on my grandfathers television, I was hooked. It was the perfect balance of dark and comical; Jaleel White (a.k.a. Urkel) as the blue blur himself was a delight to behold and listen, able to convincingly shift from corny sarcasm to painful conviction, all within the safe boundaries of a childs understanding, allowing both older and younger audiences to love the show. Heck, me and my mother watched it every Saturday, making Sonic a sort of family staple for me.
What makes this show so special, more than anything else I believe, is that it follows next to NOTHING from the Sega brand video game its based on. Most of the memorable cast were made up just for the show, and its very interesting how deeply intertwined these American brand characters have been placed into the franchise. Instead of a lame video game ripoff plot (Cough, Sonic X, Cough) this show actually has a deep, even RISKY, storyline, dabbling in incredibly dark themes like loss of family, enslavement, brainwash, betrayal, and assassination. Dr. Robotnick is nothing like any cartoon villain that has been seen for quite a while, and is above and beyond any of his recent incarnations in the games or other franchises. Like the Joker from Batman the Animated series, the bad doctor is truly intimidating, controlling the planet Mobius with a, literally, iron fist, wrenching families apart and transforming them into brainless automatons with a Nazi-esq. motivation.
Its sad that this series was cut short past its forceable prime, and that all the sonic shows since have so greatly paled in comparison. In a post 9/11 world, studio execs feel the need to constantly neuter even the slightest bit of darkness or intelligence out of anything animated. While the reasons for this are justifiable, early Ninties shows like Sonic SatAM are proof that the balance is possible, and should definitely be reinstated.
Spider-Man 3 (2007)
Like a Spider Caught in its Own Web (spoilers)
As a fan of both the comic and the movie series this film draws its heritage from, I had a lot of expectations for this flick. Maybe that's why I left the theater unsatisfied, my movie palette somewhat unquenched. But in a fan boy fit, I dismissed that theory. Later on, as I had time to reflect, I began to wonder, maybe it's just because the movie flat-out sucked? But that didn't seem entirely true. It was only later, like a week later, that my conflicted brain came up with the answer.
Both accusations were prevalent.
Spider Man 3, in many, but not all ways, is a grossly inferior film to its fun and exciting predecessors. Gone is the atmosphere of innocence and just-corny-enough ambiance that let you Merrily stroll through the Sam Raimi's and Stan Lee's world like a little kid again. Instead, you receive a film that, ironically, feels very much structurally like a spider web looks visually. It's has complexity, interweaving plot lines, abundant characters, and multiple character personality track-switches. The problem is, it just has to damn many of them.
The entire film just has, plain-and-simple, TO MUCH GOING ON. It truly does feel like two scripts cut-and-pasted together into one. Cleverly cut and pasted, to be sure, but cut and pasted none the less. Plot threads left dangling in the second film, like Harry Osborn finding his fathers Goblin Lair and Mary Jane finally admitting her love for Peter, are addressed, but very poorly used. Harry turns into the second goblin for what ultimately feels like the greater of five seconds, only to have his memory magically erased by a bonk to the head. True, he turns evil again later, but only to have his green ass handed to him by a black suit-clad peter and in the process, turns good yet again. Ugh.
This actually leads to another major problem with Spider Man 3. The Villains. There are three of them, Neo Goblin (I'm sorry, Goblin 2 is a stupid name and we all know it), The Sandman, and Venom. Unfortunately, all of them get as much screen time at once as almost everything else in the movie, approximately five minutes, and you never really feel connected with them like you did with the original Goblin and Doc Ock. The one who gets the worst of it is Venom, arguably the focal villain of the film and a character who is rapidly receiving a bad rap about only appearing at the end of the film for about ten minutes. I recently read a comparison to the villain of the movie "Transformers," the robot Megatron, who also has a similar predicament and was stated to have been "venomized." While Neo Goblin and Sandman both get a better deal in this movie, they too suffer from lack of attention, and in the end, just feel flat.
The amount of just sheer STUFF going on is almost mind-bending. There's Peter wanting to propose to MJ, the (poorly done) landing of the Venom symbiont on Earth, the introduction of Venoms alter ego Eddie Brock, Peter's relationship with a skitzophrenic Harry, the background of the Sandman, Peter wanting revenge on his Uncles "real" murderer who IS the Sandman, Peter turning evil and pushing MJ away after unknowingly bonding with the Venom symbiont, Peter ruining Eddie Brocks life and wanting revenge on him, Peter dating the barely used Gwen Stacy and ruining MJ's life in the process...and all of this is happening virtually at once in a two hour long movie.
Sam Raimi said he didn't want Venom in the movie, and you can definitely feel it. The whole film plays like a machine with an extra cog stuck in it, and in the end, it damages the experience.
I had a lot of hope for this film. As it stands, it could have been a lot worse, but somehow, that's not much comfort.
6/10. Likable, but in the end, forgettable.
A Great Film that needs a few barnacles scraped off (spoilers)
Pirates Of The Caribbean, Curse of the Black Pearl, was one of the most surprisingly great movies I think I've ever seen in cinema. It had everything; a great plot, terrific characters, clever action, and dialog that reeked of both classic filmography and modern wit. To be honest, I really didn't expect a sequel, and if there was one, I truly didn't think it would be nearly as good as the original.
Wow. Was I wrong. Pirates 2, Dead Mans chest, came like a mighty wind, building wonderfully on past material and introducing some fantastic new faces to the cast, including the stunningly animated squid faced maw of the unforgettable Captain Davy Jones. Many people bash the sequel, saying it doesn't live up to the first, but that's likely because the first was so memorable that the second just seems to be caught in the shadow of it's greatness. I took Dead Mans Chest in context with the first as an extension of the story, and for that reason, I enjoyed it immensely, and in some areas I actually feel that its BETTER than the original. I figured it out pretty quick that if there was an out of nowhere sequel that there would probably be a threequel, ala-"Back to the Future." I wasn't expecting the dark cliffhanger that "Dead Mans Chest" provided, but it certainly kept me in suspense about the third, and I was eager to see how the story would wrap up all the loose ends.
Finally, Summer of 2007, it came. Pirates of the Caribbean, At Worlds End.
And, Wow...it was...pretty good.
I wanted you to read my history with this series so you can better understand my feelings about the third installment. Perhaps with all the backtracking you can fully understand why I feel that pirates 3 is a good movie...but falls flat in the face of its predecessors. The hardest part of writing this review is that its difficult to pinpoint what's specifically wrong with this movie. Really, in terms of writing and acting, there's nothing fundamentally bad about it. But at the same time, there's nothing fundamentally GREAT about it either, and I think therein lies the rub.
As you watch this film, the first thing that might make you raise an eyebrow is the VERY abrupt and VERY dark opening. It's probably this, more than anything else, that damages the movie as a whole. You may remember with the first two movies the mysterious and intriguing openings that led you into the story, (No opening credits. YAY!) like in COTBP where you see young Elizebith singing a pirate song and in DMC with older Elizebeth alone at an empty, rained out wedding ceremony. In AWE, however, we're treated with something remarkably different. A bunch of men, women, and children getting hung mechanically by the British army for "consorting with pirates." I'm sorry, but this just struck me as a terrible way to begin the movie, especially one with such a wide audience age range. Plus, it just felt out of spirit with the series, which always had a sort of swashbuckling, light-hearted charm about it.
The entire script feels conflicted within itself. You get the distinct impression that there was some brilliant talent behind the keyboard, but they were working within a confined plot that was constantly holding them back. One can't help but wonder if they wrote all the cliffhangers in Pirates 2 without fully thinking out how they would work in the third. (I later found out on the internet that they didn't. The script wasn't even fully written before the filming started.)
Some stuff just feels pulled out of thin air, like the "Ten Pieces of Eight" malarkey or the idea that the extremely memorable voodoo witch from 2 is really the sea-goddess calypso in disguise. True, there was a super-hidden connection between Davy Jones and the witch in the sequel movie, and if you looked up the Davy Jones legend in literature you'd find out that Calypso was indeed the classic characters heart-breaking love, but the structure of this movie that leads to this discovery is shaky, to say the least.
There are some blazing moments of greatness in this film, most of them involving, you guessed it, Jack Sparrow. His dramatic return on a wave of netherworld crabs is truly awesome. And the ending battle is equally incredible, resulting in the most beautiful marriage of CGI and real-life combat animation you may see for a long time. Also, the dialog, while somewhat hindered by the confines of finally ending the series, is just as quirky and funny as before, with classic stooges like Jack, the two pirate guys, and those chumly soldiers from COTBP all returning in top form.
The ending, if you haven't seen it by now, is surprising. Very surprising. So surprising that many would say it sucks. I don't hold this opinion, but I will admit it irked me. I'll leave the final verdict on this little subject to you, the viewer.
Pirates 3 is probably the best threequel to come out of Summer of 2007, and that's a good thing. But at the same time, it takes some major risks with the franchise, and not all of them pay off. Pirates 1 still stands as a modern classic, if there is such a term, and its sequel is terrific as well. Unfortunately for Dead Mans Chest, its plot is irrevocable tied to its controversial prodigy, which I fear may drag it down to the depths of "meh" ness like a kracken dragging down a frigate.
Pirates 3 is a worthy addition to the franchise, but I can easily live with it not being added to my movie collection. But that's just me.
Rocky Balboa (2006)
No Need For A Numeral
As I watched the opening screen for "Rocky Balboa" slide across the dark background, a staple of the series since the beginning, I had to wonder to myself, "why no number? Shouldn't this be 'Rocky VI?'" I soon found out why Sly Stalone chose not to number this one. Because it's a fantastic film, one that he knew deserved to not have the lower quality rocky movies, like IV and V, attributed to it. With "Balboa," you can watch it after only seeing the original "Rocky," and still be filled in. The first movie, more than any of the others, has the strongest affect on this one, with plenty of classic characters, even the "screw you creepo" girl returning. And that's one of the things that makes it so good.
What makes this Rocky truly special is that it has that classical air of humility that the original two had. With III and up, it was all about flash, about seeing Rocky beat guys who seemed a lot stronger than him. But if you recall from the first film, rocky even said that it didn't matter if he beat Apollo creed. Just staying in the ring that long with him was enough. It is this atmosphere that has returned with this latest installment, more than anything else, that makes it great. You feel Rocky's joys and sorrows as he delves in the world of the golden years, and it truly is a moving experience.
I couldn't think of a better way for Rocky to come to an end. I know there will be movie execs biting at the bit to have Stalone make another, but something tells me that isn't going to happen. With this film, you not only feel Rocky's growth as a person, but Sylvesters to. I think the star has learned his lessons from the more money influenced Rocky movies. And for that, I am happy for him.
Superman Returns (2006)
I'm gonna be honest here. I didn't like this movie. It didn't portray anything even remotely exciting or interesting, nor did it even add anything new to the superman franchise. All this film felt like it was doing was dragging on old concepts from before to the breaking point until they almost snapped. This movie is proof that you just can't continue a film as classical as Superman twenty years later and not lose something in the process. You either need to remake it, or you need to reboot it.
To start off, the actor who plays Clark Kent/Kal El/Superman, Brandon Routh, just doesn't have a very strong screen presence, which is something that a character as dynamic as the man of steel vitally needs. Nobody wants to see a flying super stoner going through the air saving the day, they want to see a brave, all American good guy bashing even and having bullets bounce off him. I will admit there are occasions when "Returns" does this quite well, but most of the time it feels like its just sitting on its hands with overdrawn subtlety.
The one spark in this otherwise dull flick is Kevin Spacey, who plays the infamous cue-ball arch enemy of supes, Lex Luthor. Spacey Clearly tries to add that classical bravado and campy menace to the evil genius, but the writing just ties him down. Its just to slow, to drawn out, and unexciting. In other words, its just not a Superman movie.
Bryan Singer clearly tried with nobility to bring a level of depth and complexity unseen before in the Superman mythos, but in the end, he just ends up making a film thats one hour to long, and two decades to late. Maybe next time Supes. Maybe next time.
The bullet bouncing off the eye thing was cool though.