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Angels & Demons (2009)
Exceeds The Da Vinci Code in every way.
As I sat in the theater almost crying to myself in dismay over the atrocity Ron Howard and Tom Hanks call the Da Vinci Code, I could not see the light at the end of the tunnel that is Angels and Demons.
Hanks and Company are back for the Sequel-Prequel Angels and Demons, and they have learned their lesson.
Acting wise everyone is much better. Aylet Zurer is very good as Vittoria Vetra, and better than the girl who played Sophie Neveau. Tom Hanks is very good as always, he is better in this though, because he works harder at giving the movie the feeling that it is a thriller. I think Ewan McGregor does the best job of any of the actors. He might even deserve a nomination come March, but doubtful. He had me convinced right until the very end. He's Dynamic and faithful, but rational, and realizes that the Church needs to put their past behind them. The minor actors also do very good jobs.
Technically and Visually the movie is much improved. The Cinematography is much...much better, and the Visual Effects are superb. The final explosion sequence at the end is excellent. Howard does a masterful job, taking you through a tour of Rome.
Pacing wise, Ron Howard does an amazing job this time around at keeping the story moving, and not boring us with a history lesson deemed at denouncing Christianity. The movie also makes you feel like more is at stake. In our feeble minds discovering whether or not Jesus had children, is not as high up on the list compared to a cataclysmic explosion killing thousands including the Roman Catholic Church. Part of the reason I think the story is so fast paced is due to the excellent score. I cannot say enough about the score. It was epic at times, like something from Lord of the Rings, but then sometimes it felt like a Bourne Movie, which is a nice mix.
My only complaint about this movie is that it is ridiculously far fetched. The chances of the Carmelengo being someone of Ewan McGregors age are highly improbable, and the chances of a Cardinal with an adopted son getting elected Pope are even more ridiculous. Not to mention the whole Antimatter thing, which has yet to be created, and Dan Brown wrote the book in 2003...
Overall Angels and Demons is much tighter knitt, faster paced, more exciting, and more important movie than the Da Vinci Code. This is must see thriller for anyone who loves history and mystery combined into one.
The International (2009)
Very Good Intellectuall thriller
The International has a lot of ups, and maybe only one or two downsides for me. It is an excellent movie with some very groundbreaking cinematography, a very good plot, and some surprisingly good acting.
The high point for me in the whole movie, is the outstanding cinematography. I wasn't expecting anything spectacular, but they pull off some amazing shots, that are brilliant. One shot in particular is an aerial overhead shot of thousands of people running away, and it looks amazing.
Acting wise everyone does a pretty good job. Clive Owen is very intense and serious, Naomi Watts gives a surprisingly good American Accent, and the supporting cast is all very good. An interesting technique the director uses, is that he doesn't put subtitles when characters speak a foreign language, and there is a translator. Instead he lets them speak, and has the translator translate it back. The only downside to the movie for me was that I didn't think the chemistry was great between Owen and Watts. Watts is a married mother, and Owen is a bachelor. I'm not encouraging people get involved with each other when one's married, but I feel that it would've added more to the movie if there was more chemistry between them.
The story is very well put together, and also very well written. My friend found it hard to follow at times, but I think that it made sense for him in the end. The story has one constant theme to it: If you never give up, Justice will be served. The movie stays very true to the theme, because throughout the story you think they've caught the bank in a shady situation, but something happens to ruin their chances, and they must look somewhere else for a lead.
It is full of action, which is very well done, and they add this interesting buzzing sound to the action, which adds a lot to the shot.
This is a very well done movie that will entertain you a lot. 8/10
What a movie...
I thought that Ron Howard had lost his touch after Da Vinci Code's lack of chemistry between the actors. Frost/Nixon is a whole other story.
Frank Langella will most certainly be nominated for an Academy Award for his absolutely brilliant performance as Richard M. Nixon the Thirty Seventh President of the United States, and he would've won if it wasn't for Clint Eastwood's performance in Gran Torino being his last. Langela becomes Nixon in the same way that Heath Ledger became the Joker. I think that Langella's accomplishment is even greater, because people knew what Nixon sounded like, people knew what Nixon was like, and Langella nails Nixon from the walk, the hunched over back, the accent, the speech pattern...everything.
Michael Sheen is excellent as David Frost, a British Talk Show host, who takes the huge leap, to interview the greatest Political Criminal in American History. Sheen does an incredible job of showing the stress that Frost was under when he underwent this strenuous interview. Sheen won't win an Academy award, but he matched Langella perfectly.
Kevin Bacon is very reliable again as the faithful Jack Brennan. Bacon does an excellent job of showing Brennan's loyalty to Nixon. The rest of the cast does a stellar job as well.
Ron Howard is a masterful director. He makes a very conventional movie, with very basic, but brilliant shots. He does a great job of flashing ahead, and showing the "Post Interview" interviews. The music is very well incorporated, due to Hans Zimmers incredible score. Zimmer will get nominated for most likely his second Oscar of 2008 for this incredible score.
The movie just captures the whole mood of Nixon's "Post Watergate Life" so well. It is almost like a biography of everything Nixon went through after he resigned the Presidency.
This movie is very...very good. You might just want to see it, because of Frank Langella's chilling performance as Richard Nixon, but it also is very interesting, and extremely detailed. 10/10
Gran Torino (2008)
The last of the Great American Actors
I love going to the movies, and I sometimes overate movies, just because I had so much fun seeing the movie, but that is not the case this time around.
Gran Torino is just a great movie. Clint Eastwood Delivers...Again as A Director, a Producer, and especially as an actor. The movie is just very...very well done. It was shot in 76 days, and I wouldn't change anything about it for the world.
The story is very basic. Walt Kowalski, a racist, Korean Veteran's wife has just died. He lives in a neighborhood populated by the Huang people from South Eastern Asia. He hates Asians from his Korean War days, so he despises all his neighbors. His children hate him, and just want him to die, so they can get his prize possession, his Gran Torino car. One night a gang pressures Kowalski's Asian next door neighbor, into trying to steal the Gran Torino. Kowalski gets really mad at the kid, but the gang tries to threaten his neighbors, and Kowalski saves them. The neighborhood thinks of Kowalski as a hero, and he begins to develop a relationship with his next door neighbors, which culminates into a very beautiful climax.
The movie has excellent cinematography, and it is just a very conventional movie, everything is by the books. Eastwood is a masterful director who manages to create this gritty yet laid back feeling at the same time. The movie is very emotional, but at times, it can be extremely funny.
Clint Eastwood gives the best performance of 2008 bar none. Better than Will Smith in Seven Pounds. Better than Ed Norton in Pride and Glory. Better than Sean Penn in Milk. Better than Frank Langella in Frost Nixon. Eastwood just portrays this bigoted, racist, hardcore, old school, Korean war veteran, widower in such a masterful way, that you really believe in your head that you've met a thousand of these kind of people, but somehow Eastwood's character separates himself from the others. Eastwood manages to be serious, yet very funny at the same time. One thing that I noticed in the movie is that only two sequences in the entire movie have music. The rest of the movie is just Eastwood's incredible performance keeping you glued to the screen. If there was ever an actor who deserved the Best Actor Academy Award...then it's Clint Eastwood. He's 78 years old, and regardless of his past performances, he has given us the best Performance of any actor for 2008.
This is one of those movies that 10...20 years from now when you see the movie being played on TV you'll go...That was an amazing movie. It's just one of those movies that you don't see any more. You can't miss this movie...Eastwood's best.
Seven Pounds (2008)
I go to the movies to be entertained, but this is something special...
Hands down...seven pounds is one of the best movies I have ever seen in my entire life.
This is the type of movie where the story is incredibly confusing from the start, and it makes absolutely no sense, until the last five or ten minutes of the movie. You won't understand the movie unless you see the first half and tie it with the second half, and visa versa. The story just really all comes together at the end. All the loose ends are slowly tied up, and you find yourself thinking back to earlier parts of the movie saying..."Oh...that's what he was doing it for." Will Smith is...well incredible. He has my vote for the best actor come March for the academy awards. He just creates this character that, at times you hate, but when you walk out of the theater, you realize you've fallen in love with the character, and that deep down Ben Thomas is a really good person. Rosario Dawson gives a good performance as a woman suffering from congestive heart failure, that Smith's character befriends.
This movie gives you a very strong message, that can be misinterpreted. You might assume that committing suicide to donate organs is a bad message, but the message isn't about donating organs. It is about how one person's actions can positively impact the lives of others.
Now I'm not one to cry in movies, but at the end this movie I turned to my friend seated next to me, and we both saw single drops of tears in each others' eyes, and we said to each other..."Wow...that was a really great movie." I would highly recommend this movie to just about anyone.
Valkyrie, a movie that's been on the map for close to a year now, that has been plagued by delays, injuries, lawsuits, government restrictions etc. Finally it is out, and boy have I been waiting for a movie like this.
Christopher Macquarie deserves an Oscar for his script, because this was one of the best scripts I've ever heard on screen. It was thrilling, it was intelligent, and it immersed you in this Nazi Germany World that has been displayed as One Hundred Percent pure evil, yet the script shows you that there were good people there who were just following orders, who's number one priority wasn't just killing Jews. The script has some very memorable lines, lines like: "By nightfall I want to know that Hitler's Germany has seen it's last sunrise.", or "We have to show the world, that not all of us were like him." It is so beautifully written, that Macquarie has my vote for the Oscar.
If there was an Oscar called Best overall acting, then Valkyrie would win it. Tom Cruise is very good as Colonel Claus Von Stauffenberg, an injured Nazi, who is very displeased with the way Hitler runs the show in Berlin. Cruise is good, but not great, I don't know if this is the one performance to revitalize his career. The other actors are even better. Kenneth Branagh delivers a chilling performance as a Major-General Henning Von Terscow who is extremely displeased with Hitler and the Nazi regime. Bill Nighy (Pirates of the Caribbean's Davy Jones) gives an outstanding performance as General Olbricht, one of the Generals who sits around in Berlin commanding the reserve army. Nighy plays his character perfectly, from the stiff body, to his fiery temper, yet indecisiveness. Tom Wilkinson, coming off his Emmy winning performance as Benjamin Franklin, delivers probably one of the best performances of his career as General Fredrick Frohm. Wilkinson brings his incredible fire and vigor to the character, and always leaves you wondering who's side Frohm is on. Claurice Van Outen plays Nina Von Stauffenberg, Claus' wife. Though she has few lines, Van outen shows you that Mrs. Stauffenberg sacrificed more than any of the soldiers. She sacrificed her husband, her children, and herself.
Terrance Stamp delivers once again as resigned General Ludwig Beck, who is going to be the mastermind behind this whole plot. Stamp brings his awesome accent to this very complicated character. Eddie Izzard plays a party loving General Erich Fellgiebell. Izzard has some incredible lines, in which he delivers them perfectly. Christian Berkel plays the explosives expert, and assistant to General Olbricht Colonel Mertz Von Quirnhem. Berkel's character is very important, and he gives you this sense that Mertz will kill Hitler even if it means losing his own life. I think the best performance of the movie may have come from a little known actor Jamie Parker who plays Lieutenant Werner Von Haeften, Stauffenberg's right hand man. Parker shows you that Haeftan loved Stauffenberg deeply, and that he would do anything to save Stauffenberg, and at the end of the movie they really show you how strong this relationship between Stauffenberg and Haeften is.
Bryan Singer does an amazing job as the director for the movie. He makes the excellent choice not to use CGI (Computer Generated Imagery), and instead shoot everything on location. The cinematography is beautiful, and very well done. Singer gives you the perfect explanation at the beginning of the movie for why they don't speak German, or English with a German accent. Singer also does an excellent job of just creating this uncertainty whenever Hitler is on screen. You never know what Hitler is going to do next, because Singer shows you that he is Adolf Hitler, he is the greatest madman to ever walk the face of the earth. Singer makes sure that the historical side to the movie has documentary like accuracy. All that this movie's been through I think Singer should at least get nominated for an Oscar as director.
Valkyire will keep you on the edge of your seat, it will entertain you, it will immerse you in this World War II world, and most importantly it will show you that these men and women gave the greatest sacrifice of all to save humanity from the greatest madmen ever, Adolf Hitler. I would highly recommend this movie to any who wishes that Hitler had been killed before the damage had been done....I hope that is everyone.
Quantum of Solace (2008)
The Bond Ultimatum
The Bond Ultimatum. I say that, because it is almost as if the guys at MGM saw the Bourne Ultimatum and Realized that it was a better action movie than any James Bond movie. They tried to take Quantum of Solace in the same Bournesque direction.
The movie starts off around an hour after where Casino Royale left off, and I found the story much easier to follow. The story also made you feel like there was more at stake, and that Bond's actions had a greater affect on the world. Bond is bringing Mr. White (The guy he shoots in leg at the end of Royale), to be interrogated by M, and MI6 cronies. White informs MI6 that his organization has people everywhere.
Daniel Craig is excellent again as Bond, but he doesn't really begin to develop his character until the end. Judi Dench is great as always, and the rest of the cast does a stellar job.
This movie has a lot more classic Bond elements to it than Casino Royale. Inhuman stunts, impossible feats, and of course gadgets. It is very gritty for a Bond movie, and portrays Bond as more of an Assassin than so much as a spy. You will see a dark side to Bond that we've never seen before.
You can tell that Marc Forester has little experience in shooting action movies, because the action sequences are basic copies of the Bourne Ultimatum. There is a car chase that is very similar, and a rooftop chase that is almost a shot for shot exact copy. One of the really great actions scenes isn't done with live action effects, but instead uses CGI, and you feel that Forester is using other Movies and CGI has his crutch. The action might have been more entertaining if you didn't get the whole "seen it before", "Been there done that" sense with the action sequences The action is really entertaining, and nonstop. The longest dialogue sequence is less than five minutes, because there is so much action going on throughout the whole movie.
Quantum of Solace's strong point is that it has a perfect Runtime. Around an Hour and Forty Five Minutes. It's not to long, it almost feels longer, because so much happens throughout the movie.
Quantum of Solace is not as great as Casino Royale character developmentally and emotionally, but it fills those holes with some entertaining action sequences that are good at times, yet sometimes feel a bit familiar, and it's easy to follow story that puts a lot at stake.
Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008)
Pleasantly surprised. Del Toro is going to be awesome with the Hobbit!!!
My friend called me, and asked if I wanted to go with him to see Hellboy II the Golden Army. I was interested in the movie, but it wasn't a must see for me. So I said yes, and was pleasantly surprised.
The story is very good, and opening flashback is very interesting. I love the way Guillermo Del Toro shows this flashback, because it expresses a lot of feeling. The story though slow at times, is pretty solid Ron Perlman does an excellent job as Hellboy again. Del Toro brings in a lot of side stories into this movie.
The scenery is really incredible. I was skeptical when they said that Del Toro was going to do the Hobbit, because I didn't think anyone but Peter Jackson had the visionary mind to do a LOTR. Del Toro has me convinced now though, because the architecture, and the character detail is really incredible.
The action sequences are by far the best part of the movie. There are several long sequences, and some of the sword fights are really incredible. They have the most realistic sound effects I have ever heard.
I really enjoyed this movie. I wouldn't see it twice, but I had a lot of fun. Overall Hellboy II: The Golden Army delivers as another solid Summer movie. It isn't perfect, but you will enjoy the fast paced action, with Ron Perlman's wit and humor keeping you going as the story unfolds. 9 out 10
Pleasantly surprised on my Journey!
I was leaning towards seeing Hellboy II, but I took the High Road and agreed to go with my family to see this movie. I absolutely loved. I went in expecting a four or five, and came out with a 10. This is one of the best family movies of 2008, if not the best.
The movie is a lot like National Treasure, so I easily fell under the spell that this movie casts. The basic premise of the movie is that a Bachelor Geological Scientist, Trevor Anderson, is losing his lab at a University. His sister in law is dropping his nephew off to stay with him for a few days. Trevor's late brother, Max Anderson, died looking for "The Center of the Earth", and his wife is giving Trevor some of his possessions. Trevor's nephew, Sean, misses not having a father figure in his life, and only likes to play his PSP.
While Trevor is looking through Max's possession's he finds a copy of "Journey To the Center of the Earth". Trevor opens it up and notices that the seismic activity is the same that month, which is ten years after Max died, as it was ten years ago. He takes Sean to his lab, and finds that there is a new reading in Iceland. He wants to go check his Seismic scanner in Iceland. So he and Sean hitch a ride to Iceland.
The story takes off from there, and you get to see a really great movie. I would highly recommend it for any family. It was just as enjoyable as National Treasure. I really enjoyed it, and think that you should give this movie a shot. 10 out of 10
12 Angry Men (1957)
The Most amazing Movie I have ever seen
I heard from a friend that this was an incredible movie, but I, not being a big fan of courtroom dramas, pushed it aside. One day at the public library, I saw it, so I decided to check it out. I went home and watched it. This is one of greatest movies ever made. A kid is on trial for murdering his father, and if the kid is found guilty, he will be sentenced to death. After the trial the jury begins deliberating. 11 out of the 12 jurors believe the kid is guilty. 1 man believes that the kid isn't guilty. From the first five minutes of the movie till the end, you are on the edge of your seat. The movie takes place in one room, and the whole point of the movie is one man trying to show 11 men that there are flaws in the prosecution's reasoning.
In the movie each character has their own unique personality, but Henry Fonda gives an incredible performance with help from a great supporting cast. Fonda tries to convince the others that if they don't take everything at face value, and take other variables into account, and if they overcome there biased views, then the kid is innocent.
This movie is a 10 out of 10, and a must see for any human being on earth!