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15 out of 29 people found the following review useful:
F*ck Sean Penn, 8 June 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Seriously, f*ck Sean Penn. For someone who 'respects' Chris McCandless as much as Penn claims that he does, he could have done a better and more honest job with the film he made about him.

First off, a number of events in the film are completely invented or embellished. Sure, we don't know *everything* McCandless did, but we know what he didn't do. And kayaking down the Grand Canyon, meeting nude Swedes on the banks of the Colordo, and figuring out that he was poisoned were not among them. Unless Sean Penn read a different version of "Into the Wild" than I did. He may very well have. He's Sean Penn, and great, after all. Or perhaps Sean Penn thought to himself "Hey, I'm Sean Penn, I can tell a true story *better* than how it really happened!" I'm thinking that was the case.

The movie doesn't even begin to touch base on a number of things extremely important to the audience's understanding of McCandless, both as a character and a human being. There wasn't even a mention of the philosophy he read, or of himself in his younger years, or anything. And, as a result, the *reason* for his actions isn't exactly developed or elaborated upon, and will likely be lost to the viewer if they are not familiar with McCandless beforehand.

His parent's side of the story isn't exactly represented fairly, either. Years of anguish and sadness and frustration are casually explained in a few throw-away scenes. Probably because they matter so much to Sean Penn.

And, from a purely film-making standpoint, I don't agree with many of the directorial decisions Penn made. The film has more montages than all the Rocky films combined, and more cheesy voice-overs than you can shake a stick at. From my perspective, both are too artificial. Tacky, almost. Neither go well with the minimalist and humanist nature of the story being told, and with McCandless' nature especially. And given the film's largely anti-commercial nature, it only makes sense that the score is done almost entirely by big name musicians like Eddie Vedder. Actually, wait, no it doesn't. Furthermore, Penn's camera placement is clichéd and textbook, and the impact of the scenes is never really all that it could be. Sure, we *see* McCandless' hardship and loneliness and frustration, but we don't *feel* it. At least I didn't.

10,000 BC (2008)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
An Action Movie...With Cavemen!, 21 March 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I just want to state that I didn't just not like this movie because of it's historical inaccuracies. That's the least of my complaints. I mean, there's this thing called 'artistic license,' and one should realize that regardless of how stupid the movie is. Anyway....

The movie's two main characters are D'leh and Evolet. Between the two of them, then fulfill every single prophecy ever. They are also mysteriously Caucausian in a tribe made up of essentially every race *but* Caucausians. So that's pretty weird.

Anyway, Evolet and a bunch of D'leh's friends are kidnapped by this group of evil nomads for...some reason. And then D'leh has to take a group of his friends to go get them back. The traverse an entire continent in about a week's time (or so it seems), transferring from tundra to jungle to desert to grassland to desert again in about 30 minutes. On the way, it's mentioned that they loose the nomads tracks after about day three, but somehow manage to keep on their tails for about 8000 miles or so after that. Which is either really convenient or really really stupid. On the way, they steal a bunch of scenes from other, much better movies. The scenes of them traversing through the snow over mountains look like scenes in Lord of the Rings, almost shot for shot. Their encounter with the killer giant birds echoes Jurassic Park and the Raptor scenes (as do the scenes with the Baby Godzillas in anther Emmerich crapfest, Godzilla). The scenes where D'leh stabs a bird through the mouth and throws a spear at The Almighty looks exactly like less cool versions of scenes from 300. Even one of the movie's main antagonists looks *exactly* like Bitores Mendez, a villain from Resident Evil 4, right down to the bum eye.

On the way, D'leh and company make sure to conform to every action movie stereotype ever. There's the token black sidekick character, big imposing Slavic looking villains, the love interest, really stupid dialog, scenes of slow motion for no reason, scenes of people uniting together to stop evil, etc. There is also absolutely no characterization to speak of throughout the entire movie. At all.

And what action movie would be complete without stupid last words:

"Be as your as your father...ughhhh" *dead*

"You came for came for me...bgaaaaah" *dead*

So yeah.

The worst dialog, however, has to be the narration. Which pretty much sounds like:

"And so, the Old Mother summoned the life spirit of sacred Yaghren to bless D'leh and his band of heroes to secure freedom and give the gift of life to the people of the Vakhen Valley. His story will be whispered by our tribe forever." Which is pretty much the stupidest sh*t ever.

And the ending is basically moronic. D'leh overthrows The Almighty (who is in the movie for about six minutes, so he's pretty much the most evil villain ever.) and in the process destroys all archaeological evidence that Atlantis ever existed, and then invents agriculture. Before this happens, however, something really, really stupid happens. Evolet is shot with an arrow, and then is revived by the spirit of the Old Mother, the village spiritual leader of D'leh's village. Which is pretty much the most clichéd, contrived, Deus Ex Machina, cop-out bullshit ever.

There are a few positives, however. The costume design is very good, as are some of the special effects. The scenery in general was well done, but flat and without personality. And the score, although forgettable, was also quite good. But honestly, the movie isn't awful, but there's really nothing particularly new or interesting about it to warrant seeing it.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Brilliant!, 6 January 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

SEE Bay Boys 2!

EXPERIENCE the plot! Watch it re-hash every cop cliché ever! Watch it dive into the realm of impossibility! Watch as it has little to do with anything aside from explosions! Watch as most of the screen time is devoted to things completely unrelated to it!

WITNESS the performance of Will Smith! Witness his acting range! From his performance as Black Guy Of Some Authority With A Gun in 'Men in Black,' to his performance as Black Guy Of Some Authority With A Gun in 'I, Robot,' and even right up to his performance as Black Guy Of Some Authority With A Gun in 'I Am Legend,' Will Smith is truly an actor of many faces. So watch, in awe, as Will Smith portrays Black Guy Of Some Authority With A Gun in this film! Witness him use authority! Witness him use a gun! Witness his brilliance!

WATCH the drama! Watch as Will Smith and Martin Lawrence harass a teenage boy for no reason! Watch them confirm stereotypes! Watch them fight! And then watch them predictably amend! Watch them shoot guns as they hold them sideways! Watch them go *BLAM! BLAM!* Watch as they blow things up! Watch things go *KLLLBLLLOOOOOOMM!*

EXPERIENCE the avant-garde direction of Michael Bay! See how he forgoes characterization in favor of explosions! Notice his absence of originality! Watch him shoot a two hour film as if it were a music video! Watch him shake the camera as if it were dice! Watch him conduct himself as if he had talent! Observe the glazed-over look of the people around you! See that they have shut off their brain! Watch them gaze! Watch them blink! Watch them show no excitement or surprise or emotion at all! They are a testament to Bay's brilliance! Who other than Bay could make such a mind-numbing, cliché-riddled, unengaging, retarded, and pointless piece of cinema!?

So see Bad Boys 2! See a truly unbelievable piece of art! See it on basic cable on Sunday afternoon, because that's where excellence lives! See in the DVD collections of 14-year-old teenage boys who live in suburban America and yet feel the need to emulate blacks for some reason, for they are truly excellent and eclectic in their taste! See it in the bargain bin at Wal-Mart, because that's where it belongs!

7 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
Bad, and Not For Political Reasons, 30 December 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Going into 'The Kingdom,' I was really expecting to like it. Billed as a political action thriller (about current events no less), it sounded both deep and enthralling. Not to mention that it received mostly positive reviews; the only criticism seemed to be from people who thought it was overtly pro-American Neo-Imperialist arrogance or overtly pro-Arab Terrorist Liberal Bleed-Hearts.

The movie started out strongly enough. Opening with an attack on an American company installation by terrorist in the titular 'Kingdom' of Saudi Arabia, the film sets itself up rapidly. Using that attack as 'bait,' of you will, to lure American first response teams like paramedics and federal agents in for the investigation, the terrorist precede to blow up an ambulance and kill an FBI agent whose friends with Jamie Foxx. Naturally, that can't stand, so Jamie Foxx and co. want to go to Saudi Arabia and bring the ones responsible to justice.

Aside from the 'shaky-cam,' the first portion of the movie was quite good. From there, the movie doesn't fail outright from there so much as is fails little by little.

The 'shaky-cam' that persists throughout the movie is really quite annoying and frankly stupid. Once upon a time, there were these men called directors, and they could be creative and innovative with the camera AND tell a great story at the same time. Ingmar Bergman, with his use of light and shadows to create mood. Alfred Hitchcock, with his seemingly endless visual motifs and consistent knack for just the right angle. And my personal favorite, Akira Kurosawa, who managed to frame and construct every shot perfectly, yet make it feel natural and effortless at the same time. Kurosawa would storyboard his movies with full sized paintings, for Christ sake. And then there's the modern 'shaky-cam' group of directors like Michael Bay and this film's director, Peter Berg. Their directorial approach essentially burns down to point a camera at something, shake it a bunch, and hope it looks cool. It has no craft or substance at all; it's just stupid. It doesn't create a sense of intimacy with the characters, it's annoying. It doesn't serve to 'bring you there,' it's nauseating. Honestly, does anyone, anywhere, actually like this 'shaky-cam' stuff? Not that I've seen. So Hollywood, please, stop doing it.

Anyway, the shaky-cam would have been forgivable if it were used just during the action scenes, but it persists even during scenes of dialog. Editing a scene of four people talking in an empty gymnasium like it's a cracked-out music video is just moronic and distracting.

Besides the shaky-cam, there was quite a number of things this movie did poorly, shouldn't have done, or didn't do enough of.

The political aspect of the film is underdeveloped and dumbed down. Government Agents boil down the complex social, political, and economic situations in Saudi Arabia to "if they loose control of the government, they loose control of the oil, and that can't happen." How insightful! 'The Kingdom' could have probably been set anywhere, for how much the political aspect of the film played into it.

The drama of the film basically comes from the Saudi hosts yelling at the FBI Agents not to do things. The Agents wish to investigate a building outside of the attacked compound, the Saudis yell and say 'no.' Not because of the oceans of cultural difference that separate the two groups, oh no, really just for no reason at all.

Seemingly every scene ended with a "Saudi Arabia and America are different" joke. "That's the sh*t" "Sh*t? You must use bathroom?" "No, silly-head!" *cut to next scene* The first few were actually funny. After about five, it got annoying.

The investigation scenes are somewhat pointless, and really don't lead to much of anything. Chris Cooper oversees the excavation of a hole, Jennifer Garner does forensics, etc. They really don't deduce anything overly important, or do anything at all, really. They don't seem to share their findings much, either. It seemed like they were just there to fill up space, in all honesty.

Finnally, they bust some small terrorist cell, find a bunch of guns, are told it's a great success, and are told to leave. On the car ride out, they're attacked by the terrorists in full force. There's a car wreck or two, and the terrorists kidnap Jason Bateman's character. That makes sense, because he's not the main character (Foxx), the grizzled veteran (Cooper) or the hot girl (Garner). Why they don't just kill the Agents while they're defenseless in upturned cars is beyond me. Anyway, Foxx and co. precede to get their friend back in one of the most random, unwarranted, and pointless actions scenes ever. Get ready for some shaky-cam! Foxx kills about a dozen terrorists without much effort, shoots about 200 shots from a 20 round clip without once reloading, saves himself from a grenade by tossing it four feet to the right, and eventually saves his friend with co. miraculously intact. Oh, they also find Abu Hamza, the terrorist mastermind they were looking for. How convenient! What luck! WOW! This final act, which was supposed to be thrilling and suspenseful, was anything but.

The movie ends with them returning home, and they there's an overly sappy 'we're back, thank God' scene, which ends with Foxx and and Arab girl saying "kill 'em all." The mega-poignant last scene ends with an out-of-focus close-up of the girl's FOREHEAD, for f*ck's sake. How brilliant!

All in all, in terms of action and thrillers, there are much better movies. In terms of politics, there are few that do it worse than "The Kingdom." It may just be that this movie rubbed me the wrong way, but nonetheless, "The Kingdom," if not terrible as I make it out to be, certainly isn't great.

1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Surprisingly Good, 8 December 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

When my girlfriend rented this for us to watch, I instantly thought "f*ck f*ck f*ck...." I was about 98% sure that this movie would suck total ass, be completely immature, and be one "I-bet-a-14-year-old-would-find-this-funny" gay joke after another. Not to mention I really really really hate Adam Sandler. And to be fair, The first portion of the movie nearly vindicated my opinion going in.

A cringe-worthy scene where Chuck (Sandler) tries to get twin sisters to tongue kiss in an extremely annoying Bronx accent that made me want to hunt Sandler down and bash his face in with a brick comes to mind.

So does a scene where the two title characters rescue a fat guy from a fire. Naturally, he's so fat that he can't walk, Sandler cracks a mega-clever fart joke, and they inevitably fall down/off of/onto something.

So does most of the first 30 minutes of the movie, actually.

But then the movie improves. It refrains the the typical low-brow fart-joke Asians-talk-funny humor that normally pervades Sandler's movies. Grant it, there is an Asian who talks funny, but even that isn't as obnoxious and offensive as you might think.

All and all, Chuck and Larry has heart to it, which is what makes it work in my eyes. There's a moral to the story. And although it's completely predictable and somewhat cliché, it works.

0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
*Ehh*, 28 October 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

License to Wed is average, that's about the best way to describe it. None of the jokes are done with any amount of energy or follow-through, but they don't completely fail either, which is a good thing. Nothing could really compel anyone to go out of their way to see this movie, unless they love John Krasinski (and I do!), which is basically why I saw it.

John Krasinski's performance is OK, although it feels as though instead of Krasinski playing the role, they cast Krasinski's character Jim from The Office to play the role, and since Jim from The Office has no professional acting experience, he just acts like himself. A slightly angrier, less charming, somewhat more flat version of himself. It feels exactly like that.

The movie's plot really doesn't seem to have much of a drive behind it, which is probably why the jokes are so flat as well. They have to go through a pre-wedding course, but there's really no reason for it. I thought, upon learning about Reverend Frank's marriage, that maybe it went badly and he's scared for life and that's why he became a Reverend and takes such interest in making sure other people's weddings go well, and then there'd be some cutesy, sentimental moment where Jim, I mean Ben, would learn that Reverend Frank has nothing but the best intentions in mind. Nope. You'd think so, but no. It's just nothing. A stupid clichè like that would have at least given the movie a sense of purpose. But no. And then Ben and Cedi end their relationship after about three weeks of wedding-course-induced hardship, only to resolve their problems in about 40 seconds, and then get married two minutes later. Good thing Reverend Frank was there! In Jamaica! After following them! You sort of wonder if Frank has anything better to do. Not that he doesn't have a noble cause (despite there being no reason for it), but really, c'mon. And does that kid have, like, friends or family or a life or anything? These things could be rendered as being sort of creepy, but the movie's so flat these things really don't bother you. So yeah. Whatever. That's about it. Just get your relationship-movie fix from Knocked Up, your Krasinski fix from Thursday nights on NBC, and leave this movie alone.

Knocked Up (2007)
224 out of 330 people found the following review useful:
Vulgar, Sure, But Certainly Not Stupid., 22 October 2007

I've noticed a lot of the negative comments about this title tend to focus on this movie's vulgar, 'stupid' humor. Now let's get one thing straight. Knocked Up is vulgar, absolutely it is, but is is not stupid. Stupid humor is crap like "Mr. Woodcock" and "Good Luck Chuck," movies with no real craft to any of their jokes.

"Jessica Alba fell down!!! Ahahahahahaha!"

"He yelled 'sex' really loud!!! Pssshhahahahahaaheheheheeee!"

No. Die.

Knocked Up, on the other hand, is actually pretty clever most of the time. And even the movie's vulgarity isn't done in an over-the-top, simply-for-gross-out way (cite the fat bitch from Good Luck Chuck). It's what I guess you could call 'relevant vulgarity.' Anyway, the movie is extremely funny. Every joke is naturalistic, but not expected. The movie's characters are all convincing and multi-dimensional, and above all likable. Seth Rogan really does make the movie, though. He is hilarious, but he comes off more like a real nice, frank, down-to-Earth guy. Just the kind of guy you'd like to sit down and have a beer with. The kind of guy you'd more than like to get smashed with. The kind of guy you'd really like to have ill advised unprotected sex with. The kind of guy you'd love to raise a bastard child with. Needless to say, he's the reason the movie works.

28 Days (2000)
2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Answer these questions as you watch '28 Days', 18 October 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I saw this movie in my health class (I am 17), which is probably the only thing that it's good for. A 'teaching tool.' Because in its own right it's completely asinine and basically sucks. We had to fill out a questionnaire regarding the movie, you know, just to show that we paid attention. Since the only time anyone should watch this movie is in a similar setting, I created my own high school health class questionnaire to fill out as you watch:

1. What's more entertaining, Sandra Bullock, or a pile of bricks?

2. Is Gwen's (Bullock's) boyfriend suppose to come across to the audience as an asshole? How can you tell?

3. List three clichés in the first half hour of the movie.

4. Why did a respected and talented actor like Steve Buscemi agree to be in the movie? How much was his talent wasted?

5. Gwen's mother was a junkie, which is why she is a junkie. On a scale of one to ten, how creative is this character back story?

6. Do you think something terrible will happen to Gwen that will cause her to change her attitude toward rehab?

7. Where you in any way surprised that something terrible happened to Gwen, causing her to change her attitude toward rehab?

8. Is it painful or emotionally moving to experience the death of a character whose only interaction with the main character or audience has been in spelled-out, formulaic scenes? Why not?

9. Do you think Gwen will completely reform her life after only about two weeks of taking rehab seriously? If overcoming addiction is this easy, why are there so many addicts? Are they all lazy, or is this movie just bullshit?

10. Gwen breaks up with her boyfriend. Was anyone surprised?

11. Other than the acting, screen writing, and direction, list three thing mediocre or worse about this movie. Be creative!

12. a. Did you enjoy this movie?

b. If so, is your IQ below 85?

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Beautiful, 15 October 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Elephant Man is a simply beautiful movie. Everything about it is done with such a subtle, frank beauty and honesty that it is a truly difficult quality to put into words. It is an exceptional film.

These qualities are truly remarkable given what the movie could have been. With such a topic, The Elephant Man could have been anywhere from pretentious drivel to an exploitation film, or could have simply missed the mark. True, the writings on which the movie was based are quite venerable, but the possibility that this could have been an absolutely awful film was certainly still there.

One of the major reasons The Elephant Man works the way it does is that everything about it feels, well, right. Natural. Take the movie's most obvious characteristic: it's filmed in black and white. Now, there are a million little reasons why this works so well, each is too small to get into properly. The fact, however, is that it works. It works marvelously, actually. Another 'right' thing about The Elephat Man is David Lynch's direction. Every scene is important, every one with a purpose. The film never once becomes boring or starts to drag. Not a second is erroneous. However, the audience also gets 'the full story,' so to speak. When the movie ends with Merrick's death, the audience is sadly and strangely satisfied with this conclusion, and all the prior events that build up to it.

John (in reality, Joseph) Merrick himself is a lovely character. Lynch's presentation of him to the audience is brilliant. John is grotesquely disfigured, but we aren't repulsed by him. By that same merit, we don't automatically feel sorry for him because of his condition. Instead, the audience simply accepts John Merrick. We come to know him not as an elephant man, but simply as a man. The compassion the audience feels for John is for him as a man. When he is harassed and beaten, we feel his indignation. When he is accepted and respected, we feel his joy.

John Hurt's performance as the title character is great, and is probably one of the greatest and most underrated portrayals of all time. Everything from the voice to the body language is completely convincing and sincere. The subtleties of his performance are something that is often overlooked. From the nervous confidence in all of his actions to the frankness in some of his reactions (when he is forced to view himself in a mirror, the startled scream he emits conveys about a dozen different things, each one of them feeling genuine), everything about the title performance is done so perfectly and fits so well that we don't even notice most of the time.

All in all, The Elephant Man is a great movie, and is certainly deserving of its place on the Top 250.

11 out of 22 people found the following review useful:
Awful, 13 October 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Transformers is basically really awful. Everything about it is bad. Except for the special effects. It's your typical, extremely dumb load of Michael Bay crap that's paced poorly and has a ton of PG-13 explosions for absolutely no point. The vast majority of the movie serves no point, actually. Not that I'm bashing this because it's a Hollywood blockbuster, far from. But Transformers could probably have been about 30 minutes shorter and not suffered in the slightest.

Take the scene where Sam goes back to his house to retrieve his Grandfather's glasses. What should take about nine seconds is instead panned out into some pseudo-slapstick 10 minute scene that tries to be funny, but largely isn't. And why? What does it have to do with anything?

Or the whole hacker sub-plot thing. About five pointless minutes there. Or Sam's friend. We see him for like a minute and a half before Shia ditches him for the girl that tags with him the rest of the movie. Why the hell is he there to begin with? Or the whole 'girl has a juvee record' affair. It's mentioned once, only to be resolved 15 minutes later. OK, great. Wait, why? It has nothing to do with the rest of anything. At all. Then why is it there? And then there's a bunch of other really pointless stuff. I'm pretty sure the "Taco Bell Dog" with the broken paw was there just so the 14-year-old girls in the audience would go 'awwwwwww.' I can fathom no other reason why it is there. The whole eBay thing was nothing more than shameless product-placement in the extreme.

What makes all of this extremely asinine is that the Transformers have absolutely no personality. Instead of developing the real meat of the film, Bay wastes a great deal of time doing what amounts to not a damn thing. Aside from what you learn about them in the first 11 seconds of their being on-screen, the Transformers don't develop or change or show any amount of character at all, which is a real shame. There's Prime, the leader; the one who wants to use his guns all the time; the one who acts black; and Bumblebee. That's how the audience knows them, and all they ever amount to. And the Decepticons are even worse. They're all introduced at the end of the film, only to be defeated. What a menace. Wow. Megatron, who should be the 'harbinger of death,' as Shia puts it, is flat and boring. His reign of terror lasts about 25 minutes. What a character. Just wow.

The final battle, where the movie all comes together, is just wretched. The Transformers fight in a city, which is great for Bay because a lot can be blown up that way. But why do they go to the city to begin with? Because they take the AllSpark, the object the Transformers fight over (logically located beneath Hoover Dam, the safest and most practical of places to hide such a thing) to a city (where you would naturally want killer robots to take their fight to) for 'safekeeping.' Christ.

Anyway, when the Transformers get to fighting, what should be a bombastic and exciting event is instead chopped up by a bunch of really pointless bullet-time and overly-short edits. Aside from when Prime and Megatron fight, you can't tell who's who, and don't care most of the time. The fight never really takes off, let alone gets going.

Oh, other bad things about this movie, before I forget. The acting is bad, the soundtrack is generic, and the screen writing is awful.

On the plus side? The effects are cool. Also, you don't have to think once, unless you question why the hell Micheal Bay thought a discussion about masturbation was needed at all or why Michael Bay is allowed to make moves at all or try to think of a positive aspect of the movie besides the special effects. Then again, you may have to do a lot of thinking.