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Messy storyline but I didn't care.
28 June 2009
I enjoyed myself! The storytelling was a bit messy and there were a few plot holes but I didn't care much. It bothered me to an extent but not enough to ruin the experience for me. This movie wasn't trying to achieve anything great, it's not vying for any academy awards, it's just there to give people a good time at the movies. For me, it did just that. It pleased most of the people in the theater I was in.

If we're going to be real, okay (spoiler alert): the movie was TOO long. They dragged that dessert scene for ages, which they didn't need to because the story is formulaic, we know Optimas Prime is going to be resurrected and he's going to kick ass, so dragging it on just made everything a bit too melodramatic. The storyline was sloppy--it had a lot of potential but they tried to complicate things, there was a lot of disorganization, rushing through the actual meat of the story. It confused me. That was the beauty of the first movie. They kept it simple and concise and it worked out because they let the characters and the action do the work. We didn't have to try to figure what was going on while we watched cars and robots crash into each other (deciphering plots is difficult to do when there's so much sensory overload). And I have to agree, although the special effects were incredible, I often found myself questioning whether that was an Autobot I was seeing or a Decepticon. It didn't help that they merged Optimas Prime and a Decepticon (although that was VERY cool). The characters seemed more 2D than usual, but it didn't bother me.

All that aside, I still really liked the movie (the first was way better though). I liked what they did bring to the table, the material was good enough (the ending fell a little short, but I was sort of expecting that). I loved the humor in it, it was so alpha and beta male style--I can see how some people might be turned off by that, but come on. They're trying to please a demographic here (cars+robots+hot girls... gotta have that kind of humor interplay). Bumblebee was awesome. I wasn't expecting Isabelle, but sure, I'll buy it.

If this kind of movie reaches out to you, you'll probably have a good time. I think you kind of have to be into the alien robots, cars, that macho-guy sense of humor, massive action scenes or at least be open to it to like the film. By the way, Optimas Prime stole the show every time he came out. He has the best entrances ever.

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Best Kiss of the Year
14 January 2006
So I've finally found my film of the year to cheer for and (surprise surprise) it's Brokeback Mountain.

Despite all the deafing buzz surround the film, I actually managed to go into the film relatively unfazed and was shocked at how good this film is without all the Oscarbuzz clouding up my perspective. If for any reason Ang Lee hadn't secured his-self in my top 3 favorite directors by now, he's safe now.

I have to say I've never been a fan of Heath Ledger. I have just never found him interesting as an actor and the only movie of his I can really tolerate is A Knight's Tale. But I have to say his portrayal of Ennis Del Mar is one of the best performances I've seen an actor give since the 00's began. From his inarticulate way of speaking to the hurt seen in his eyes, Ledger captivates throughout the entire film. He never once lets up and I appreciate that so much.

Gyllenhaal as Jack Twist is just a wonderful ball of boyish sexuality and confusion. Obviously Twist is more comfortable with his sexuality than Ennis at first and Gyllenhaal is completely believable as a man starving for love and waiting at all cost.

The women are good as well. I actually prefer Hathaway to Williams simply because I'm so shocked she had that type of character performance in her. She is so hilarious as a rich Texas girl growing into the type of rich bitch that type of person could become. Williams was good as Alma but it's nothing I haven't seen from Williams before. She gave knockout performance after another on Dawson's Creek all the time.

There are so many scenes in this film that are absolutely heartbreaking but the absolute best one is the Reunion Kiss between Ennis and Jack in front of the house. Best Kiss of the Year.

Best Film of the Year.

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Munich (2005)
I want Raiders Spielberg back.
14 January 2006
This must just be the year of me being damn hard to impress. That's my story for Film 2005: Bored. (and yet my favorite film of the year, one that I have seen three times and still want to see again, is yet another adaptation of one of the most well trod stories in the English language. Go figure.) For starters, it's way too long. Way, way, way too long and ended about half and hour before it ended. Spielberg, Kushner and Roth went out on what felt like 1001 tangents, striking out with random thoughts and moments that just add to the jumble of thoughts and ideas that lead to my next point.

What the hell was the point of this movie? I suppose at the end, I'm meant to take it for a statement of the impotence of violence, but I found it almost impossible to hold on to that feeling. It was a little 'too little too late'...too weakly expressed at the end of a very, very long, bland and violent (amazing how it can be both) morality tale. Paradise Now did a much better job with this idea, I think.

Yeah, it's Spielberg, so it's well crafted, and there were a few moments that I really enjoyed - during the Beirut mission, the staccato of the rapid gunfire matched with the clanging footsteps running down metal stairs was especially striking. I did hate the sequence with 'threatening to blow up the little girl'...hated with a passion. Cheap, cheap, cheap.

I have a question about the languages used in Munich. Now, I've never really experienced a multi-lingual society, so I don't know in a practical situation how much English would come into play. When dealing with characters of several different nationalities (one of which is a native English speaker), it makes sense to me for the group to be speaking English. But when it comes to scenes of just Israelis, would they be speaking English? Or is the English to make it more understandable to the audience, to not bog down a major expositional scene with subtitles? And if this is the case, how is that any better than Rob Marshall's use of English in Memoirs (which in the end only bugged me because of a). the way it negatively affected the performances and b). the way that they pulled out Japanese whenever they felt like they wanted to be mysterious or exotic)? Just a question.

In short, Boo. I want Raiders Spielberg back.
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A solid and fun way to start the year '06 of film
14 January 2006
It always bewilders me when you see clips and trailers for a film and it's presented in one way and then you end up seeing it and it's vastly different to what you expected it to be. The Family Stone has been marketed so freely as some sort of frivolous piece of slapstick comedy that when the layers start to be drawn it sort of comes as a bit of a surprise.

The strength of the film is the way the dynamic of the family is developed. Each character is given some time to grow on screen with all of the actors up to task. Keaton, Parker and McAdams have all garnered mention from a number of the reviews by both critics and posters on this board and they're all really good, particularly McAdams (but seriously in her short career so far has she ever been bad?), however, it was Nelson who was the one who stood out for me. Obviously The Incredibles has done something for his film career and here's hoping with what we got to see here that he's given more opportunities.

Somewhat predictable, in the end it doesn't really matter as we're swept along with the way the family Stone progress through the trials and tribulations of the Christmas period. Other favourable factors included Giacchino's appropriately festive score and the sensibility of the director and writer, Thomas Bezucha, to stay just the right side of sentimental over-kill and in-your-face preachiness.

A solid and fun way to start the year '06 of film.
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The Producers (2005)
Uma doesn't sing well
14 January 2006
I went into this with all the warning; no King of Broadway, Uma doesn't sing well, etc. etc. So I was expecting a big disappointment. Which, when you're expecting it, doesn't usually happen - and it didn't.

Most of the complaints I've read so far I can't agree with. Lane and Broderick, while rehashing their roles with often stagey presence, do the job perfectly. Broderick floored me - I expected it from Lane. Every time Broderick did something, one of his quirks, whatever - great. Stagey, yes. Works in this movie.

Ulla dance good. Uma looks better than Cady, but doesn't sing as well. BUT - she did NOT sing badly. All her pitches were on, and though she used some "poppy" stuff to get there, it all sounded just fine. And who are we to say Ulla is a great singer? She is hired for a purposeful flop, after all... I thought she was great. Standing ovation.

Ferrell ate it up, and the ballad was HYSTERICAL. He did the part justice, nothing special. Just very good. Beach and Bart; naturally amazing. Ghia's "sssssss" gets me every time (everytime being the 2 times I've now seen it).

The only problem with the movie is Stroman. Nothing but a medium length shot for the whole movie. But it didn't distract me enough from the film for me to care that much about it - I wanted to see the stage version, and that's pretty much what I got. Upset that they cut some of "Springtime," but whatever.

One of the most enjoyable movie experiences this year - up somewhere in the top 5.

NOTICE PEOPLE - they didn't try to work the lyrics of the cut songs into the script. NEVER try to do this, it will never work, and automatically sink any prospect of goodness.

My love for Mel Brooks was enhanced by the film. Man's a genius. Now lets work getting Blazing Saddles on stage...

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Soap Opera Movie of the Year
14 January 2006
I would like to present to you the film of 2005 that gets the coveted title "Soap Opera Movie of the Year." When I sat down to watch Memoirs of a Geisha, I knew I was in trouble because of the bad reviews the movie has received and also because of the way the movie opened. We get no explanation as to why these two young sisters are torn from their parents and forced to be slaves. It just happens.

I would like to focus this paragraph on the troubles I had with the movie in a list. 1.) Why are these characters speaking English?? This was set in Japan before WWII and I think that the Japanese people there SPOKE Japanese. The most annoying aspect of this was that it was very very very difficult to understand the actors at times because they aren't native English speakers. I hope that doesn't sound too prejudice because it's not a dig at them, it's a dig at it being filmed in English. 2.) It was like two different movies. The first half dealt with seeing the life of a geisha and how you become one and the rivalry that happens within that circle. It was interesting to see how sacred the geisha were during pre-WWII times. But then the war happens and that is really when the movie went downhill...and fast. It was poorly executed and so ridiculously contrived. The romantic aspect of it was poorly put together as well, and the ending was rushed and overall last half was too choppy. There was not a great connection between the before and after of the war times, though it was nice to see how the geisha were sexed up after the war. 3.) Already mentioned this above, but the majority of this movie had so many soap opera aspects that it was initially becoming fun to laugh at, but overall it just became ridiculous. The rivalries between the geishas was seriously from an episode of a daytime soap opera, ditto the romantic aspect and the dealing with the war.

Acting-wise, Ziyi Zhang was good, but nothing award-worthy here. I liked Gong Li, but I think the MVP of the movie acting-wise was Michelle Yeoh. I don't know what to think of Rob Marshall's work here. I didn't hate his work in Chicago, and I didn't love it either, but this was just...a mess. And the majority of it has to be laid on the doorstep of the director. I did love the art direction though and the score was nice at times though also a little too overpowering. Liked the cinematography. I read a shorthand review of the movie from a critic online that sums up the movie perfectly: a beautiful bore.

I don't know if this story is adapted well since I have not personally read the source material, but I do know that if this was like the book, it's no wonder why it didn't work on screen. I don't even know if another director or the film being put in different hands altogether would have made much difference. Who knows, but all I know is that as is, this is bar none one of the worst movies I have seen this year. I can see why some would like it (like my mother, who loved it), but I am not one of them.
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Red Eye (2005)
Deceptively clever.
6 September 2005
Deceptively clever. I think that is a good way of describing this potential B-grade gem. Potential because I think it will take a few more viewings down the road to see how it holds up. With this initial viewing I found it to be rather tense and well acted little thriller. I also found it to be exactly not what I expected.

Knowing it was from director Wes Craven, and what I saw in the teaser trailer and the commercials led me to believe that there was to be some type of supernatural element. You see, the last thing in those commercials was a red overlay centering on actor Cillian Murphy's eyes. I thought for sure he was going to be some sort of soul collector. I was wrong, and that isn't a bad thing, it actually led to more anticipation as I realized I had been duped by the advertising.

The plot plays out in two parts, one stronger than the other, but each one displaying a different type of suspense. The first part plays out on the plane. This story starts out with the staple of romantic comedies, the meet cute. This builds into the revelation of Jack's ulterior motives. What follows is a battle of wills between the menacing mystery that is Jack, and the vulnerable strength displayed by our heroine. All of this taking place in the claustrophobic confines of an airplane, nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. The tone shifts once the plane lands, it becomes a bit of chase film, the claustrophobia is traded in for wide open spaces and more familiar territory for Lisa. It speeds towards it's conclusion, once we reach a resolution between Jack and Lisa, the film ends as there is nothing else needed.

This film does something else beside provide us with a tight little thriller. We are given a good look at two rising stars. This summer is providing ample proof, at least to me, of the growing star power of Rachel McAdams and Cillian Murphy. McAdams, besides being positively lovely, does a fine job giving us that balanced mix of vulnerability and strength. She gives the character a believability which allows us to connect with her and her plight. Earlier this summer she graced our screens in Wedding Crashers, looking forward to what's next. On the flip side, we have our villain, played with charming menace by Cillian Murphy. He does a wonderful job making us believe that he will do whatever it takes to achieve his goal. He showed some of his screen magnetism previously playing Scarecrow in Batman Begins. Taken together, you have an on screen duo which has great chemistry and are successful at drawing you into their characters and the situation that they are in.

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A million dollar movie from a million dollar director.
3 March 2005
It's tough to talk about this movie without giving away some things that would ruin it, but one thing is for certain, it's NOT absolutely NOT what you're seeing advertised by Warner Bros. in the theaters. No, it's not a story about boxing, it's not an action film with Clint Eastwood, and it's not a thriller.

It has elements of all of the above, but this film that is directed and stars Clint Eastwood is perhaps his most emotional, most mature, most heart-felt film of his career. Just before I went to go see the movie last week, I was on the phone with Roger Ebert who predicts that it will sweep the Oscar nominations and could possibly be the only film with double-digit nominations this year. He may be right. If that's not enough of an endorsement for you, the perhaps this delicate explanation of the film will suffice.

Swank is enthusiastic, overzealous and passionate in this role. She chomps into the part like a champion, and she does more than sweat to make this part believable every step of the way.

Eastwood tries to avoid her interest in boxing, and her yearning for him to manage her, so he shuffles her off to Eddie, who gives her tips about how to train.

Not wanting to give anything at all away, some things happen that make everyone's life change drastically, and the film takes a totally unexpected direction from the first third of the movie.

That being said, the third act of the film is perhaps the weakest because it lacks the dramatic punch of some of the earlier scenes. It's still dramatic, it's still tender and surprising, but for some reason it's the least satisfying in the film. It gets slow, schmaltzy and somewhat cliché, but hey, it's a movie.

Eastwood no longer needs to prove himself as a director, and after last year's "Mystic River" (which won Sean Penn and Tim Robbins a best actor and supporting actor nod) he has proved he can direct well. Rarely does a director like to act in his own movies, though, so seeing him do both is an exception.

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Constantine (2005)
The climax involves something similar to what Keanu Reeves experienced in "Devil's Advocate.
3 March 2005
The movie seems like it runs a lot longer than its two-hour duration, and depending on how engrossed you are into the story I imagine you might believe otherwise. The special effects are first-class, allowing us long glimpses of Hell and its demons. And while I still say the best visual description of Hell is found in the Robin William flick, "What Dreams May Come," "Constantine" is a sweet-looking spectacle.

The weakest part of the film is the detective character. Even though essential to "Constantine's" plot, I did not like Angela's story or believe she was a necessary character to tell John's tale. When you see the film, pay close attention to how Angela responds to what she learns early on about the war between Heaven and Hell and compare that to her big revelation near the climax and see if it makes much sense. It's a minor plot hole but sticks out if you too do not find yourself liking the female sidekick.

But "Constantine" is unique in that the Heaven/Hell genre is so little explored and rarely does it delve into the controversial aspects of Catholicism. So few films care to talk about the place you ultimately end up at if you don't declare Christ as your Savior at any point in your life. But it's not preached so I'm sure nonbelievers and people of other faiths will find no problem getting into this story and sympathizing with a Catholic destined for eternal torture and suffering.

One fear I had coming into the screening but was quickly put to bed was the fact that the movie was directed by one of those first-timers who's only experience is directing pop music videos. For a guy who's resume is limited to Britney Spears, Will Smith, Sarah McLachlan and Aerosmith, I'd say Francis Lawrence has a promising career ahead of him in film. He doesn't make that mistake so may MTV directors do when they hyper-drive the pace of their films by dissolving it into quick cuts and camera zooms.

If anything, Lawrence keeps the pace slower than the norm, allowing the audience to absorb the brooding scenery and crisp special effects. Whether you appreciate the backdrop or not is the litmus test for how much moviegoers unfamiliar with the graphic novel will enjoy the movie.

As you might expect the climax involves something similar to what Keanu Reeves experienced in "Devil's Advocate," the first film he was in that brought his character face to face with Satan. Here the confrontation isn't nearly as long but gets the point across nicely.

Because "Constantine" in print is a long series of graphic novels, there was no way all of it could be condensed into one film. Like the unbelievably bad Marvel screen adaptation of "Hulk," the movie has to spend considerable time covering the basics, and perhaps that is why I believe it doesn't live up to its full potential. With the introductions out of the way (and to be sure. worthy of an entire film by itself) I would not be surprised if an even better sequel is on the way.

Stay seated through the end credits to see what is really the last scene of film, showing what happens to the character I left out of this review.
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Neither hero nor villain had very much characterization.....
24 January 2005
This film works. It's a fun action adventure/thriller/mystery with a dash of fascinating American history.

I loved the movie yet agree that neither hero nor villain had very much characterization. The real "characters" were Jon Voight as Cage's dad and Riley as the sidekick.

Both of them worked very well to provide emotional balance. As did one of the villain's sidekicks who exclaimed, after watching Cage kiss the babe while in dire danger : "Why doesn't that ever happen to me?" Made the evil guys seem more real too.

Also, both Cage and Sean Bean are so good to watch that we somehow believed they had character even tho the script didn't include much. I felt Ben was never in any real danger. There was no real or else factor or any type of consequence if he Didn't find the treasure. Sure he would've proved his father right, been a miserable disappointment, but thats not really strong enough of a consequence, and going to prison was just silly.

I compare this to Goonies because that film is also a treasure hunt and has a better emotional consequence I think. The kids set out to find the pirate ship treasure, if they fail the consequence is that their parents will loose their houses to some corporate monster, thus shattering the kids childhoods.

I really enjoyed this movie and while I enjoyed it, I felt easy : They plan and execute a robbery that should be difficult, but they pull it off in two days? Not enough conflict or risk in the heist (understandable, they didn't have scads of time, but... eh...) The ticking clock was there, but the stakes didn't seem very high, even when they were - I never believed the danger. I couldn't get wrapped up in it (part of it, I'm sure, was two teenage idiots behind me talking through the whole thing, just begging for someone to say something so they could blow up on that person).

Finally, with all the dust and spider webs down there, when the flame raced through the channels, I expected an explosion and a mess of melted gold, or at least charred documents from Alexander's library.....

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'The Incredibles' is indeed incredible!
17 November 2004
I would say this movie is Pixar's best animation movie yet. The artistry in this movie will absolutely knock your block off. These guys have come SO far, SO fast!

The script is absolutely brilliant. It is about a world that has legislated away the need for superheroes and implemented a "superhero protection agency" that lets them blend into society. It's similar to the X-Men story, but with a sense of humor. One of the messages of the film is a personal favorite, and one I've ascribed to for years: "If everyone is special, then no one really is".

I was really surprised at how this movie scratched my James Bond itch rather than my superhero itch. The comparisons are unmistakable.

It's the most staggeringly beautiful homage to 1960s modern design and architectural ethos ever made. The leotard designer, Edna Mode's (Edith Head?) home was a masterpiece of mid century modernism. The cars, buildings and especially the bad guy's secret island fortress are the perfect tribute to production designer Ken Adam (all the 60s James bond movies, Dr. Strangelove). This movie deserves the Production Design award.

The soundtrack is the best soundtrack yet. So many have tried to knock off the John Barry vibe, but no one has done it so well, and with such a sly wink. Brilliant!

There is no way that this movie is for little kids. The ones in the theater watched it, but I don't think they were nearly as enthralled as the adults.

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Mean Girls (2004)
Lindsay Lohan is the real QUEEN BEE!
28 July 2004
I have seen Mean Girls twice. I thought Mean Girls was pretty funny. (I am 17 years old, and Male. I went to the movie with my girlfriend).

Tina Fey and Tim Meadows were funny. I also very much enjoyed the large gay kid and the girl who has her lesbian crush on Regina George. They are indeed cool. There were plenty of funny parts, like that girl telling Tim Meadows about her 'wide-set vagina'. Lindsay Lohan is really nice to look at. In this movie, she's not ridiculously tan, making her much better looking.

Also, I have to remind everyone that there are two parts where girls get hit by buses in this movie. There's the one blonde bitch that gets hit and then has the neck brace, and then there's the 'junior plastics' at the end of the movie. It's a little funnier to see 3 of them get hit at once.

Having the main character come from Africa and the home schooled background was a really good idea, that I thought made the whole concept easier to buy.

My only question, to people who saw it was, why would you leave the hot-dog joke in, after they had to censor it. I mean, the joke is obviously that a girl masturbated with a hot dog, not 'made-out' with a hot-dog. If the MPAA decided they couldn't get a PG-13 and keep the masturbation part, why not cut the joke entirely?

I give this movie 3.9 out of 5.
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Funny but eerie.
27 April 2004
Just finished watching this movie. Well, in my opinion, this movie was a really well done movie. Although I thought that the first scene was absolutely hilarious. Anyway, the movie did start very extremely fast. The makeup for the zombies was fantastic.

The biggest problem that I had with the film is the fact that there was absolutely no build-up whatsoever. It wasn't eerie or creepy like the first one. It pretty much just jumps right in and after that, everything moves really fast. You don't really even get time to "bond" with the main characters so you end up not really caring if they live or die.

Also, they changed the location! I know to most people, that doesn't matter at all. Other than that, it was a really fun movie. Some really great kill scenes and the zombies totally kicked ass. Some of the characters were really likable and funny and it was nice to see Tom Savini make a cameo.

And I don't think any movie that is supposedly remade can be called that at all. Since every director who remakes a movie wants to put there own little spin on the movie (I'm referring to Texas Chainsaw Massacre) which I loved. The only part I was really hoping to have seen in the new TCM was the part where the old grandpa guy was sucking blood outta her fingers, and well, the sledgehammer part. If you have seen the original, you will know what I am talking about. The nastiest part in that whole entire movie.

Back to DOTD, good movie, it started really fast, I love the celebrity shoot-out, I loved the zombies, the ending was depressing, and it was a good take on an old movie.

6 out of 10.
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13 February 2004
I just watched this movie yesterday. Jack Black was awesome, as he usually is, and they got some really good kid actors for the students especially Kevin Clark Alexander, who marvelously were also extraordinary musicians (or else could fake it REALLY well while they did an ass-load of dubbing). Either way, the music and acting was great. The plot, on the other hand.....not to say it was bad, it was just not quite as good as it could have been. There were quite a few parts I probably would have done differently, and a WHOLE lot of stuff that I totally saw coming, way too contrived. If it had been a little less predictable and had a little less lame story, it would have been a much better movie.

Overall main grievance: All of the funny lines from the movie were in the commercials, so I knew they were coming, which of course ruined the humor value of them. They should have at least left something to surprise us with.

Overall best point: The music. Jack Black rocks more than I thought he did.

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Monster (2003)
2 thumbs up for Charlize Theron's stunning portrayal of the multiple murderer.
3 February 2004
I got the chance to watch this movie for the first time after seeing Charlize's winning at the Golden Globes.

This is a performance for the ages. Charlize totally embodies Aileen's appearances, clothes, gait and etc. These are easy (yet not often done right), but to get into a personality is not. Charlize's performance will be archived for study by all in the film industry. Perkins should get a lot of work also.

There will always be controversy about Aileen's guilt reference her history of abuse. What is interesting about this story (if the movie is true) is that Aileen's killing spree only occurs when she has a sense of love in her life and someone to live for. She killed for money to support her only love. That's what the story is about as portrayed in the movie; the killer is humanized, a bad intersection of emotions, but a powerful story that is not melodramatic.

I have to admit that I did laugh at some parts (not any violent or emotional ones) such as when she was making fun of secretaries, what Johns like and etc.

About the makeup. Charlize's makeup was distracting extremely briefly in the beginning because I knew that was Charlize but the distraction quickly disappeared and I do mean QUICKLY! Charlize disappeared into the role of Aileen and hell to me it was just like Aileen herself was telling her story. If you can see a movie where you are or if it's coming to where you are than I wouldn't hesitate to watch it. It is a solid movie with the best performance of the year from Charlize and one of the best I have ever seen.

Lastly, Whale Rider is an excellent film, and Keisha Hughes seems to have the makings of a gifted actress but nothing really measures up to Charlize Theron's terrific performance in Monster.
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3 February 2004
Warning: Spoilers
I got the chance to watch this movie on a DVD for the first time 2 days ago.

Children of Heaven is a very good movie. And coming from Iran, I was impressed. The storyline may be simple, and you may think that you may not have anything to cheer about or feel angry about, believe me when I say this movie will make you feel a variety of emotions, from shocked to sad to happiness, to disappointment. I credit all that to the simple, yet extremely powerful story, the excellent direction and the magnificent charisma of the two young leads. They shone and they will draw you into the story. My most favorite scene for this movie is the marathon scene. The fact that Ali had to beg and cried to get a place in the running team was heart wrenching, and when the camera focused on Ali running, we will cheer and cheer him on when he fell back. There was total silence except for his sister's voice of blaming him for losing her shoes and as he ran, he kept seeing his little sister, carrying her schoolbag running and running to rush him his pair of shoes so that he can go to school was sad. And he ran and ran and realized he was going to get first place and I screamed, "Don't! 3rd place Ali!" and Ali ran a little slower and counted, "one, two" and he was third until one young man passed him and he was fourth and he ran harder and harder without thinking.

In the end he won 1st place and got a free trip and his coach was overjoyed. But the tired Ali was silent and he was crying before the cameras. And when he went home, he couldn't say a word and his sister knew there was no shoes and she walked away disappointed and Ali sat by the fountain, with the goldfish in the pond nibbling at his blistered feet and he felt he had let his beloved sister down. That was the ending, but we all knew it will be a happy ending when his father comes home with the new pair of shoes, for both of them. And this was the success of this movie; you felt like you were Ali or Zahra and you will feel deeply for these characters.

10/10. The best foreign language movie I have ever seen on any subject which I feel justifies the full marks.
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Cold Mountain (2003)
Putting aside my enthusiasm for Return of the King.
2 January 2004
I feel that Cold Mountain is still a good movie and is being unfairly lambasted.

In regards to the acting, the film features a good cast (primary and supporting) with few if any truly sour performances. Zellweger is the obvious standout (and almost steals the show) while Law also does quite well in his role. Kidman was perhaps the weakest link here where her accent didn't always come off as convincing. (Kudos to Portman who does very well with what is more or less a brief cameo)

Minghella handles the story well. Things seemed a bit slow at first but the story and pacing picked up substantially as the film progressed. The plot provided plenty of interesting elements and characters in both of the parallel storylines (Inman's journey vs. Ada's struggle to survive).

A weakness in the film was the lack of substantial romantic development prior to Inman's departure. The film acknowledges this and plays upon it, which softens the damage it does storywise but doesn't completely make up for it. Development of Inman's disgust for the war was also something that could have used more time before he went off on his odyssey back home.

The main problem with the film is probably how violent it is. Despite being a tale of romance and adventure, the film can get quite violent, especially in regards to which characters it's willing to dole out death to and the methods by which it's done (which may come as a surprise to some who think it's just a sappy romance film). This cruelly violent side of the film often times comes in stark contrast to the emotional story the filmmakers are trying to tell but, on the whole, provides an interesting take on a harrowing time in American history.
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The Return of the King : Peter Jackson's crowning glory.
1 January 2004
I thought the movie was pretty damn good. Although, I think it was a bit on the long side. To me, they almost could have done without the first scene, the whole thing with Smeagle and killing his friend for the ring. I thought that would have fit better in one of the other movies, or just not be included at all. I also think the last half hour could have been cut down a tad bit, but there were a lot of important things there. It seemed to just drag on at that point. I guess I was still thrilled with all the battles.

Which brings me to the fighting. While I think Saving Private Ryan still has the best battle scenes I've seen in a movie, this ranks at 1a. Just flat out awesome they way they did everything. One complaint though: The ghosts just seemed to run through the guys and kill them. I don't know the exact background of the guys, but I think they should have actually put a beatdown on the enemy rather than just run through them and kill them like that. Of course, that probably would have put the movie at 202 minutes.

I give this movie a 9 out of 10.
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Gothika (2003)
Anyone familiar with the plot?
2 December 2003
Anyone familiar with the plots of The Sixth Sense and The Ring will find Gothika to be pretty familiar territory: Vengeful spirits unjustly killed seek to rectify wrongdoings by reaching out beyond the grave. Those they contact fear for their sanity, but eventually get with the program and ensure that evil is brought into the light. What moved Gothika beyond the PG-13 territory of those two films is an extended scene of non-sexual nudity, the inclusion of sexual torture as a plot point and an infusion of slasher chic-justice gets meted out with the edge of an axe. Gross stuff. And while it doesn't reach the disgusting extremes of, say, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, it goes far enough for discerning viewers to leave it forever locked away in its own cinematic purgatory.

How do you convince someone who is insane that what she is experiencing just isn't real?

That question soon becomes much more personal for Miranda. While driving home in a stinging rain storm, she nearly runs down a drenched girl standing in the middle of the road. When Miranda checks to see if she needs help, both end up writhing in flames. The next thing Miranda knows is that she's locked in a cell at Woodward. In the space of a breath, three days have disappeared, three days in which Miranda's husband Doug was brutally murdered and she was found at the scene having a seizure. Miranda's former colleague, Pete, tells her she killed her husband. But Miranda knows that's not right. It was the girl, it had something to do with the girl, the girl who no one seems to think exists.
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Simply an insult to Dr. Seuss
2 December 2003
I was actually excited when I heard that "The Cat In The Hat" was going to come to life on the big screen. I didn't expect it to maintain the same level of genius that only Dr. Seuss could come up with, but I expected at least a descent adaptation. Instead, what we have here is nothing more than a typical Hollywood money-making machine that massacres the original story and turns it into a toned-down "Austin Powers 4", complete with sexual connotation jokes, eyebrow-raising situations and toilet humor. Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of Mike Myers and the "Austin Powers" trilogy. But at least those movies weren't deceiving in their content: we knew what to expect. But with "The Cat In The Hat", we basically get the same thing in the disguise of a "children's movie", only because the powers-that-be know that the masses will eat it all up and make their wallets even fatter. They have crapped on the genius of Dr. Seuss's work. It's a good thing that he's already dead, because seeing this would have likely killed him.

If you're thinking of going to see this movie, I have a better idea. Using small pieces of paper write down the names of all the movies currently playing (except this one), place all of them in a bowl, close your eyes and select one randomly. Now go see it. Trust me, you'll get a LOT more out of it.
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Big, pulpy fun.
2 November 2003
Even though I am a huge movie buff, I am not a Quentin Tarantino fan. I didn't enjoy any of his previous three movies and thought they were basically over-hyped garbages. Therefore, I was reluctant to watch Kill Bill : Volume 1. When I watched the trailer, I thought to myself, "Give me a break". However, after a close friend recommended the movie to me, I finally gave in and was quite surprised with what I saw.

Kill Bill doesn't seem to contain one original piece of movie making. Just about everything in the movie is stolen from some obscure movie or television show of the past, from the opening credits to Uma Thurman's yellow jumpsuit. However, all the pop references of the past are chopped up and brought together in such an unique way that a totally new movie is born. Even more surprisingly than that is the movie actually works, even with all the cheesy gore, great sword fights, and witty-yet-over-the-top dialogs.

Outside of the characteristic heavy foul language, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. I left the cinema thinking to myself, In that sense, the movie resembles another great tribute of the pop cultural past, the surprise cliffhanger. Can't wait to find out what happens in Kill Bill : Volume 2.
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Secondhand surprise
28 October 2003
This movie was worth-watching. The characters are well-drawn and sympathetic. Just as young Walter (Haley Joel Osment) gets to know his great uncles (Michael Caine and Robert Duvall), we are introduced to this pair of "Secondhand Lions". Just as Walter learns to trust these two eccentric strangers after a lifetime of lies from his untrustworthy mother, we are allowed to learn the lessons of life in pace with him. There are no plot tricks, just eye-widening revelations as the story unfolds at a satisfying pace.

This is not a small quiet story, however. There is the rumor of a hidden fortune of which, it seems, everyone from relatives to traveling salesmen has heard. There are hints that it was obtained through the uncles' adventures but also that it might be ill-gotten gains. Along with Walter, the audience discovers the truth of the rumor.

There is action, comedy, danger, acts of courage, defiance, and tragedy that is part of human frailty. It's wonderfully accomplished in a way that allows older children to enjoy it with their parents. You have characters with whom you can identify no matter what your stage in life.

The director skillfully weaves the past and the present and still manages to preserve the confirmation of story until the very end. I don't want to say too much about this movie or it will spoil the fun of experiencing/watching it. Don't miss this movie.
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Freaky Friday (2003)
Help! I'm trapped in my mom's body!
28 October 2003
I went into this movie thinking Lindsay Lohan is no Jodie Foster but she is still pretty talented. However, I was sadly disappointed. This remake wasn't nearly as good as the first movie. Lindsay is entirely over dramatic and not a very fun character to watch. The only thing I really liked about her was that she played in a garage band. But the girl wasn't as developed as I would have liked. She isn't a rebel or a goodie two shoes, she just is. I believe the producers have utterly failed to capture a realistic teenage character (Evan Rachel Woods would have been better).

Jamie Lee Curtis, the mom, is a psychologist. I think a lot of her scenes with her patients could have been spiced up a bit. Also, when she is trying to psycho analyze her children, she could have played this up a bit more to add some comedy that the movie is lacking.

In all, the movie took itself far too seriously. This kind of movie should been more comedy than melodrama. I feel like if the rating had been moved up, the movie would have had more room for humor and drama. I think poor Walt may have rolled over in his grave.
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Wrong Turn (I) (2003)
Not a wrong movie.
14 June 2003
Wrong Turn is an excellent, scary, fast-paced horror movie. The premise has stranded kids searching for help but instead stumbling into the lair of a pack of deranged, backwoods freaks. The disfigured creatures have made quite a habit of capturing motorists and butchering and eating them. After slaughtering two of them it's up to the remaining four to escape. Wrong Turn is the rare scary movie that has good acting and character development as well as adrenaline-pumping, creepy scenes. Jeremy Sisto and Emannuelle Chriqui do a good job of gaining sympathy with their portrayals of two people in love and Desmond Harrington is very adept at playing an action hero. Eliza Dushku, who is a beauty with raging talent, makes a fine lead actress. This is a perfect movie with no flaws. Even the cinematography is above average. Look for the scene in the watch tower with the gorgeous shot of the setting sun. Wrong Turn is an ideal summer movie that will make you think twice about camping.

I can honestly say I consider this one of the best horror movies of all time. The film grabs your attention from the opening scene and doesn't stop until the very end.
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Is D3 a comedy or every parent's nightmare?
4 June 2003
I thought this movie was great. There was just so much in this movie to relate to for parent and child. I loved the scenes when Charlie and Kim are looking for a cheaper alternative to the upper crusty Chapman Academy. What parent hasn't had an experience like that, day care, babysitter, whatever? Oh, I don't think so! I just really enjoyed the movie and was not ready for it to end. It was a feel good movie. It's not much higher in quality (writing, acting, etc.) than your average TV sitcom but the premise you came to see (Eddie Murphy plays with some kids) is played out predictably and amusingly, right down to the potty jokes. Sadly Angelica Houston is wasted in a badly-written part as the villainous headmistress of a rival snooty daycare 'Academy.'

If you want some laughs and to have your heart touched by the positive message, then enjoy this one.
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