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16 reviews in total 
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Abandon (2002)
2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Trick endings..., 29 August 2008

This movie isn't as bad as the worst reviews have it, and not as good as the best reviews. It muddles through on mediocrity, and a plot twist.

Here's the good news; it's not a completely out there plot twist. If you watch it knowing it's coming, you start to understand some parts of the movie better. It's not a cut and paste ending that leaves you scratching your head.

Bad news; it's still not very good.

The movie captures two things pretty well. One, the drive and ambition it takes to try to get out of college in the top ten, and two, the college life. Oh, and three, but that's a spoiler.

I watched Sixth Sense again, once I knew the ending. And you know what? It had a whole other story to tell, different from the narrative you thought you had been seeing the first time. Every scene, every line, was laden with subtext.

There's some of that in this movie, but not as much, frankly. It doesn't work as well. The first time, it's tolerable. And if you're wondering now 'will I care about the characters,' you won't. And you shouldn't.

Everything about this movie feels a little 'film-school,' if you know what I mean. Ultimately, watchable, but not great.

Waterworld (1995)
1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
A movie too dark, 13 January 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

There are four basic reasons this movie failed at the box office.

1) People don't like an unsympathetic 'hero.' The hero here is basically indistinguishable from the villain. Both of them are ready to kill the little girl on a whim. Both of them are survivors.

That's just too dark to start with. But this movie, for all the laughable elements, really wanted to explore the darker side of a post apocalyptic world. And that meant reaching down into the heart of the human darkness.

Which meant a protagonist as scarred and as hurtful as any movie villain you've ever seen.

2) The genre is uneven I mentioned the funny elements, right? Basically, somebody imagined this as an action-comedy at some points. It's not a slapstick by any means, but it contains enough irony, sarcasm and generally humorous mayhem to fill a boat.

And a lot of it is, again, dark. HAving a pirate operating dual machine guns start shooting at his own men because he can't hear them yelling at him to stop over his noisy machine guns? Pure corn.

But it works, because of the darkness. It works as a garish, black sort of comedy--see point one. Audiences weren't ready for that kind of darkness. (Exhibit a: Brazil, a much more cerebral movie, that also had this problem) And, finally, the third reason; A lot of very good stuff was left on the cutting floor. Until you've seen the uncut version (very hard to get hold of) you really are left thinking, "boy, the Mariner changed his mind in a real hurry when he decided to go back and save the girl." Well, if you'd seen the long scene where he decides instead to abandon her, the whole thing begins to make sense... but it's darker. Go back to point 1.

Point four. This one is the worst. The happy ending at the end? SPOILER!! The fish-man goes back to the ocean, leaving everyone else alone on the land.

It's NOT a happy ending. Go back to point 1. It's a dark ending--but, it's an honest ending. Everything we know about him is that he's at home out there. He thrives out there, where nobody else can even survive. They gibber into madness and sink, an inch at a time.

He loves it, and we can tell.

And audiences at large couldn't handle an ending that brutally dark. Even if he saved the little girl, the idea that they really couldn't live happily ever after as a nuclear family was just too honest to the tone of the movie (the one they didn't like, remember?) And now, let me tell you what I REALLY think.

Scientific honesty is all well and good, but what I'm really interested in from a movie is emotional honesty. I want a movie that will actually ask, how civilized are we really? And how human will we look to an outsider, a new species? This movie stays true to that dark thesis. Everything else--the garish, lurid humor, the ending--just supports that.

Hitch (2005/I)
A must see, 14 February 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Romantic Comedy genre is pretty simple. Formulaic, even. There's very little room within that rigid framework for a genuinely good movie.

As Will Smith shot off a direct address to the audience, a sly Alfie-like dissertation on how to get a girl, the groundwork was already being laid for a genuinely great Romantic Comedy.

Will Smith's performance as the scarred, guarded "Hitch," has more nuance than can be rolled into the entire cast of most romantic comedies. The disparate subplots around him could probably support a movie on their own, and his supporting cast is beyond hilarious.

But beyond that, this is a movie that actually explores the line between love and sex, the difference between a date and true love. The gun-shy Hitch, although he doesn't believe in his own product, doesn't sell 'success' between the sheets, or a brief shot of instant romance; he sells true love, relationships that can last forever.

When he's approached by a player who just wants to 'bang' a memorable girl out of his mind so he can get on with his life, he turns him down in no uncertain terms.

Of course, in a movie with this many different ideas, the supporting cast must deliver. Kevin James (TV's King of Queens), as Hitch's latest client, delivers. He's hopeless. He's helpless. He's the clueless dork that we all suspect resides just below our cool skin. He's the lovable guy who cannot even speak to the woman of his dreams.

Hitch is the man we all wish we were, the smooth talker that understands the secret language women speak, the man who understands what they think, and can model an approach for any woman.

As he cautions during the opening titles, "I can't make it happen. I can only give you the opportunity." It's a lie, of course. Part of the package is perfect dates, coaching on that perfect kiss (where overzealousness is not a good trait), and even dance lessons.

Director Andy Tennant (Ever After) then begins to mine the rich material he's set up, letting us in on the secret that there's more Hitch in Kevin James than he realizes, and there's more lovable dork in Hitch than he realizes.

Eva Mendes (Once Upon a Time in Mexico) plays another cynic, a newspaper gossip columnist searching for the Love Doctor while being romanced by an unsuspecting Hitch (huh, I wonder if there'll be a conflict between the two based on this?).

Mendes puts in a fine performance, transcending Romantic Interest to actually come alive as a wary, world-weary reporter who understands all too well what guys want, and is ready to shoot them down as quickly as possible, while at the same time desperately clinging to dying dreams of true love.

As the two leads circle, each of them hyper-aware of the possibility of being played, they both try to generate the best possible image of themselves, hyping them up—being the player they both fear. That's Hitch's job, after all.

But where he's succeeded with other men, he fails miserably on his own turf, each date quickly devolving into a disaster of comic proportions. He cannot take Mendes out on a skidoo without kicking her in the head; he can't take her out to eat without exploding in the worst allergic reaction since Linda Blair ate a demon that didn't agree with her in The Exorcist.

But these shared disasters start to form the basis for a real relationship, and you can almost smell disaster in the air. It comes, predictably, in a scene richly punctuated by the Temptations Can't Get Next To You, a subtle irony. As the lead singer boasts of his omnipotence and bemoans his inability to get the girl, we watch Hitch, the man with all the answers, finally run out of answers.

The rich denouement of the movie is when Hitch finally realizes that his smooth ways have never been what made the relationships he's orchestrated work. It's been the dedication of men like lovable dork Kevin James, who doesn't care what a fool he makes of himself if he can just have one chance to make rich girl Allegra Cole happy.

My other greatest fear walking into this movie was shallow racial stereotypes. From the trailer I expected the 'fly' black man to teach the rhythm-less white man to dance and be cool.

But in the hilarious final sequence we see Will Smith bust out a few lovably dorky moves of his own, and we realize that Hitch's dance lessons weren't about dancing at all, he was just showing Kevin James how to hide an aspect of himself, the dorky dancer aspect, an aspect Hitch has kept carefully hidden.

Ultimately, we realize that Hitch's relationship is better, more real because it lacked the slickness of the pre-planned event he wanted it to be, because it lacked the smoothness of a memorized line. His obsession with the perfect date and being the perfect man are actually a dead end, and he can't really let Eva Mendes in unless he has the courage to show her all of him—even the dorky dancer underneath.

In a movie about fronts and what women want, the ultimate answer is simple: get real.

Tennant keeps the movie moving constantly, with a sense of pace only matched by the whirling camera work. The movie snaps from scene to scene, bounding over deep waters even as the screen is kept as well-lit and crisp as we expect from a genre piece so squeaky-clean.

Hitch is a rare treasure, a movie that embraces the rules of the genre as a way of exploring love, sex, and the murky water in between. It transcends the boundaries of romantic comedy and stereotypes, creating a movie that subverts the genre and explodes Hollywood stereotypes.

25 out of 30 people found the following review useful:
Wow! What a movie!, 3 September 2003

This hilarious western spoof is wickedly funny, marvellously self-aware, and doesn't want to admit to knowing the meaning of the fourth wall.

Hope works well with Roy Rogers--and of course Jane Russel is a sight not to be missed. Personally, I liked her better in the raider get-up, fully ensconsed in her role as villain. She keeps us guessing right up till the end whether she's going to shoot Hope or kiss him. What a movie!

I can't tell you any of the gags, or any of the string of one liners Bob Hope starts the movie with and doesn't let up with at all, ever. It would just hurt you too much.

If you haven't seen this movie and think would like to, go watch it. If you consider Bob Hope unfunny, and long for subtler entertainment, go set your pants on fire, you philistine, and give yourself some culture.

2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Noir--where the genre should have gone, 30 July 2003

This movie just screams enjoyable. It's a first-rate comedy, with excellent performances from Bogart and the rest of the top-notch cast. The problem is that it's easy to miss the jokes, and think this is a wannabe Maltese Falcon or Casablanca. It has all the serious elements of Bogey's career. But, like Schwarzanegger in Last Action Hero, Bogey learned to laugh at himself--and that is what makes this movie so great!

X-Men 2 (2003)
And the beat goes on...and just gets better, 30 July 2003

My only complaint with the original X-Men was that the tempo was awfully slow for an action film. Which was fine, since it was the first in the series. But I was afraid that the sequel would drag on and on, with only half a plot worth of script...

Thank you, Mister Singer.

The tempo picks up, and there's enough plot in here for three movies by a lesser director. Logan's past, Marie's control issues, some of Storm's issues...and you know that we have to explore the bad guys issues too.

And then there's the action scenes.

My one complaint: two of my favorite characters, Ice-man and Cyclops, are little used, little explored. There's a little about Bobby being from a hostile family, but other than that these two are ignored.

So my one hope...the next sequel is all about Scott. And Logan...and Iceman...and Jean...and...

Only a trilogy, Bryan? Waah!

Daredevil (2003)
Not terrific...but good, 29 July 2003

This movie is a classic example of what I like to call the epic syndrome. People are looking for the next epic, like X-Men. A crashing epic with high, airy concepts to punch around. They just can't handle a dark movie with plenty of angst that simply plays with hugely enjoyable characters.

Matt Murdock is sinking. In the opening fight scene, he kills a man, very deliberately. Cuts him in two (with the help of a train). The rest of the movie is about his struggle to fight crime and not sink headfirst into the morass of evil he fights every day and night. By day, in the courtroom. By night... with horns on. (Love the line: 'and I'm not exactly thrilled about the costume, Mat-thew')

Not an epic, but not a movie to miss. Jennifer Garner turns in her best performance ever as Elektra. Just an ordinary girl--with butt-kicking karate skills. Garner handles the physical side of her performance well, but when the angst pops up and her father dies, she handles the emotional side of her character as well.

Extra points to Michael Clark Duncan and Colin Farrel; as bad guys, these guys pull the film together and keep it from being bogged down.

One of Ben Affleck's best. The fight scenes are VERY well filmed.

This move is a nine out of ten--only because some of the plot creaks of deus ex machina, just a little bit.

Pale Rider (1985)
22 out of 40 people found the following review useful:
Step up, preacher-man...step up and make my day..., 29 July 2003

Clint Eastwood reinvented the western. Where are the good westerns these days? Where are the Clint wannabes? This is what Westerns should be...

Forget Duty.

Forget Honor.

Forget Courage.

Just pray to god the preacher-man will come around and beat your enemies into submission.

Clint was downright scary. He carries off a sword-fight scene in a western with aplomb. He's big, mean, tough, and bad. The baddest of the bad. And unlike Dirty Harry, he's not bad cause he nuts. He's just bad because he is. He's a force of nature.

And seeing Clint in a clerical collar...if that doesn't scare you, nothing will.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Parody? Ha. Not good enough for a parody..., 28 July 2003

Like the awful Wing Commander, this sci-fi flick wants to be so much more...but it just isn't. Heinlein had subversive intentions; this movie isn't even good enough to be a parody. The best it can be is heartless action-sci-fi--and as that, it reeks.

The fascism angle might work, if only they didn't play it so flatly. Michael Ironsides turns in the only poor performance I've ever seen him give, because he has so little material to work with. Van Diem is, as usual, moribund. Maybe he could play a vampire...

Verhoeven is still living his Robocop days. This movie is basically Robocop, only poorly done. The message is the same, but watered down to the point where all there is is a bunch of guys with guns shooting bugs. And a soap-opera sideplot--figures, with Van Diem. Somebody tell him to get back to making those good movies he once made...oh, wait. He didn't; I'm mistaking him for a good director. (although, I can't say that categorically; I've never seen any of his early work)

16 out of 19 people found the following review useful:
Great, brilliant, film!!, 28 July 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***


Ignore the other posters. This was a great movie, head and shoulders above all other action fare for the summer.

First, the most surprising angle, at least for me. When was the last time you saw a movie with an attractive woman and the sex angle wasn't played up?/she kept her clothes on? Mina Harker is important as a character, not as a sexpot. Points to the director.

The same actually extends to other characters. They are people, rather than just cutouts used to further the plot (with the exception of the invisible man--but, then, they cut his role because to expand it might have meant following Alan Moore closely and making him a rapist--a move that they just weren't quite ready to go for in a PG13 movie, apparently). Hyde is genuinely creepy. Nemo is authentic. Far more authentic than any other movie adaptation of 10,00 Leagues Under the Sea. Dorian Gray is terrifically portrayed (although the whole 'face the painting' non-continuity really was poor; why not just have her stab the painting?)

But, bottom line: all the characters were true to the books. The dialogue wasn't forced, nothing was forced down your throat. Some people complained that the plot was 'hard to follow;' do these same people complain when an action film beats you over the head with its plot? Finally a director who understands subtlety and how to lead a plot so it comes out naturally, and they complain! Bah!

And the plot is complex, believe me. More complex than it appears. The way it is naturally expanded and the way it flows may fool you into accepting it as simple, even dead; but it is not. The richness of the deception, the horrible betrayal (which should be obvious to anyone with more than a passing knowledge of the classics from which these characters come)--it all comes together to suddenly make sense. Suddenly scenes that were strange, scenes that seemed heroic, even the slightly romantic scenes become different. Creepy.

The action is terrific, and the music is haunting. My only complaint is that the movie was too short. Another ten minutes establishing M, another ten minutes of interaction between these complex and rich characters...alas.

My only hope is a bevy of sequels. Characters and universe's this rich and complex deserve sequels.

9 out of 10 stars (only because it was too short and they toned down the darkness a little bit for the PG13 audience)

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