Reviews written by registered user
|17 reviews in total|
Last night I watched one of my Top100 favorite movies of all time. Brian De Palma's Body Double (1984). Still a beautifully shot and edited piece of work. De Palma manages to capture the essence of Hitchcock and Scorsese and I swear I saw a little bit of Spielberg in there too, but this amazing piece of 80s film noir is top notch still. Sure, it comes with some 80s cheesiness, but that just helps to emphasize the almost dream-like craziness that our anti-hero and peeper, Jake (Craig Wasson), experiences. This would be the film that made Melanie Griffith a star (of course she would ruin that fame by turning into a bitch and a pain in the ass to work with by the time 15 years went by), and it garnered her a Golden Globe Nomination for Best Actress. It also featured a then unknown band named Frankie Goes to Hollywood doing their classic song about sex, "Relax". Many twists and turns in a plot full of deception and voyeurism. Wasson does an amazing job of conveying to the audience a character that imbues sympathy and support even though he tends to do things a little bit on the creepy side. I was worried that the sands of time may have made this film dated, but I was pleasantly surprised that this wasn't the case. This is still a blast and a must see for Movie-Buffs. Oh, and De Palma's The Untouchables (1987) is one of the best ever.
There is only so much Seth MacFarlane can do with his voice and writing talent. Now that he has been seen so much in real-life since the Oscars, it is only fitting that he venture out into the world of Live-Action. We all know that his approach to comedy is to shock and to open eyes and since he has the luxury of the R-rating, that is exactly what he does, but with a cute twist. This is a classic story that takes place in the Wild-West, about the good-guy beating the bad guy ....... and getting the girl. He is a man trapped in a town he doesn't understand. A man surrounded by people he can't understand. He is a nice guy living in an environment that is dangerous and life-threatening at almost every turn. This is the only place in the world where people die at the "Town-Fair" every year. After being tossed aside by his girlfriend, because he isn't "tough enough", he is then befriended by the most beautiful girl in the West. Unfortunately, she is married to the most dangerous outlaw in the entire West and it is from this recipe that the film grows out from and by the end makes you feel good inside. There are a lot of great cameos in this film. There are also plenty of smart funny jokes as well. Sure, the film makes room for all its shocking humor. All the "poop" and "vagina" jokes. Making fun of conservatives and white people. But, in the end, you can feel what Seth is trying to convey to you. That among all the silliness that makes up this world and all the gross nonsense that human beings can do and all the violence that assholes try to do to their fellow man, love will still prevail.
Seeing this film definitely makes me want to look into the character's
original roots, but not for reasons you might think. Edgar Rice
Burroughs, the man who brought us Tarzan, also created the story of
John Carter of Mars. He also ends up, through clever writing, being
John Carter's fictional nephew Edgar "Ned" Rice Burroughs in the film,
in fact, the story of John Carter has been around for 100 years in
various forms or another. The reason I want to do more research on this
character, even though I have heard of the story and even read one of
the comics 30 years ago, is I really do not know enough to do a fair
comparison. My issue is; I couldn't see any credibility in
rookie-director, Andrew Stanton's depiction of taking a man out of 1881
Earth and sending him to an alien world that he could never even
imagined. I mean, hell, they barely had light bulbs in 1881. I want to
see how far Burroughs took this, because that is what was killing me
with the movie, because I could not accept what was being fed to me.
It's a shame too, because the movie starts out good.
We get a majestic introduction to what is happening on the planet Mars and then we end up in the Wild West in 1881 America. We get treated to some good comedy in the guise of Bryan Cranston, as a Union Colonal who locks up John Carter in jail and has to pursue him once he escapes, only to be caught in the same trouble that John has to deal with at that moment. Even the way John gets to Mars is sell-able and with great detail they even depict for us John painstakingly trying to adjust to the planet's gravitational pull, that, ala' Superman, gives John enhanced strength and ability and thus makes him an object that the local species find interesting. I even had no problem with the insect-like CGI'd green Tharks that capture John initially. As the film went on I realized that there is no way this film has sold to me the idea that if this story really had happened it would look like this. The credibility is not there. As I have said a million times before, no matter what kind of film it is you are making you still have to pass the believability test and this one fails at it, which is a shame, since they went through the whole routine of explaining to us in detail about John learning how to jump and run, they even come up with a device that allows him to eventually understand what Mars inhabitants are saying.
There are other issues that make this one hard to enjoy. Although, she is beautiful and has a great figure, Lynn Collins, who plays our femme fatal, the Princess Dejah Thoris, gives an acting performance that was tough to handle. Maybe it was some of the dialogue that was handed to her, but I and the group I went to the movies with were making fun of her by the end of the film. "Oh John!" The other issue I had with this film was the fact that when dealing with this much material you need to be careful with your time. Long movies are long movies and if you handle the content well and don't give the audiences reasons to start disliking things, than even a seven hour long movie can be enjoyable. By the time we get to the 20 minute mark of the film you are already seeing indications that "rookie-director" isn't sure what things to cut to get this thing to a manageable length. Instead of cutting tedious, boring things out of the film, maybe some of that "Oh John" stuff, Stanton tried to get clever with the editing in the action scenes and there a huge amounts of jump cuts, edits that make no sense and continuity issues. When you are force fed that kind of stuff you tend to get bored or insulted.
OK, enough of the bashing. Let's get into some of the good things. The story is quite good actually and I think you can credit that back to Burroughs, because I fear, if this group had tried to write something original this may have come out even worse. There are a lot of cute and humorous moments that make you smile. The film is beautiful. The CGI and all the special effects are quite good. It was nice hearing voices like Willem Dafoe and Thomas Hayden Church as the main Tharks and Mark Strong gives a good performance as the evil Matai Shang, who is the architect of all the chaos on Mars. I feel things may have worked out better if this had been broken up into two movies, thus giving Stanton more room to clean up the edits and make things flow better. You can't have a wide shot of John Carter fleeing away on horseback, away from the town, and have in the very next shot Cranston and eight or nine Union soldiers about twenty feet behind him. There has to be a device or explanation as to how that happened or it is considered a mistake. Whoops, you just lost the attention of another film-goer. I didn't hate this film. I probably will watch it again someday on DVD and I did rather enjoy some aspects if it, but in the end, the mistakes, silliness and tediousness took its toll.
The original Predator films were fun because they gave us the unique perspective of seeing man as the hunted. Man is supposed to be the most superior beings on earth until these guys showed up. Then, as we moved into the "AVP" era of the Predator movies franchise we got to see the Predators take on someone more their size with the Alien creatures. This time we go to the Predator's place. In the Arnold Schwarzenegger/Danny Glover roll this time is Adrian Brody who under protest is the leader of a group of soldiers/mercenaries/killers who are just trying to keep themselves from getting killed. I can't say too much about his character but hats off to the excellent work of Topher Grace in this film. His part in this film is the only part that gives this film any credibility and saves it from being a total joke, which brings me to Laurence Fishburne. His character is useless in this movie. He plays a crazy survivor who has managed to survive on this planet for 10 years yeah right. The special effects work fine and so do the stunts. What kills this one for me, and I have said it a million times before, but no matter what your story/genre is all about, you still have to make it believable and this one takes way too many liberties with the reality factor. From the fake moons/planets in the daytime sky to Mr. Fishburn's ridiculous character this one was a let-down.
All kidding aside, I really don't care if Tom Cruise is weird or believes in Space Gods or jumps up and down on Oprah's couch like a maniac. All I care about is if he can deliver a good film. When I left this film the woman behind me was telling her friends that a couple at the ticket counter didn't even know the name of the film. All they said was, "we want to see the Tom Cruise movie". Is that where we have come? Who cares about anything else, just point me towards the Tom Cruise movie???? What made me want to see this film was the same reason I saw "Date Night" earlier this year. It is your classic buddy-buddy romantic-comedy action film with a leading male character and a leading female character. It hearkens back to the films of the 70s & 80s with Chevy Chase and Goldie Hawn or Mel Gibson and Goldie Hawn. This one takes an espionage angle and throws in the action and humor not unlike the Roger Moore Bond films or the Dean Martin Matt Helm films. It surrounds a story involving the transportation of a small Super-Battery that all the bad guys want. I also went to see this movie because I still love Cameron Diaz, but anyway .. You can clearly tell that the producers saved money on the special effects. There was a lot of bad green-screen work and some of the CGI was lame too. The editing was off and it also had a lot of continuity issues. That is the bad stuff. They had to throw the money at Cruise and Diaz, plus the locations where the film was shot were beautiful and the stunts looked great. It is a cute story and it keeps you thinking about who is bad and who is good. Cruise and Diaz work well together. The soundtrack was nice too. This is a great example of a sloppy but fun film. If they had polished up some of the technical stuff this would have received a much higher grade, but some of the mistakes were embarrassing.
What troubled me the most about this film was it felt like it was the same story (Andy leaves the room, Toys get lost or in trouble, Toys need to work together to get home, Antagonist makes life tough for Toys, etc), but as the film unravels you remember the real reason you are here. To see Pixar animation come to life, beautifully I might add, and to be entertained for an hour and a half. All our returning friends are back, minus a few, but now Andy is 17 and moving onto college and the fates of the Toys are sealed. The characters who are gone are replaced by some new and exciting characters. The film also opens up with a new adventure in the beginning that is exciting too. This part was never done in the other two films either and gave a new dimension to this film. It obviously is an adventure that is generated by the ideas found in Andy's head but the Pixar team gives it to you like it was totally real. The interesting thing about the story is the parallel lines between Andy's situation and the mood the film will eventually take that catapults it into being one of the best films of this summer. As Andy grows up so does the Toy Story franchise. This film takes a startling, but welcoming turn towards the mature side of things and dishes out a dark side and a violent side that tells us that the Toy Story world has grown up. I don't want to say what happens, but it is jarring. Some highlights are Potato Head as a tortilla shell, Barbie & Ken, Michael Keaton expertly handling the voice of Ken and an homage to the now classic theme song "You Got a Friend in Me" in Spanish. In my opinion it still isn't as good as the original, but damn close. It is a fond farewell (hopefully not the last).
We open up this film with a positive. We are handed a story based on an obscure early-70s comic book that combines the great traditions of the Western with the supernatural forces of the undead. Jonah Hex has been a steady mainstay in the DC/Vertigo comics since the 70s, but is considered almost totally unknown to those outside comic book circles, so every time I mention the movie to people I usually hear, "Jonah who"? Anyway, that is where the fun ends. Being a "retired" comic book fan myself, I too only saw a tiny sliver of the Jonah Hex mythos. I maybe read one issue back in the 70s and what I remember from it was that it was a neat idea, but poorly executed to the point of being silly. I felt, even before I reached my teenage years, that Jonah Hex seemed a little ridiculous. Flash to 2010 and we have a block-buster Hollywood movie starring Josh Brolin, John Malkovich and Megan Fox. Malkovich, the bad guy, has a huge canon that he plans on using on Washington, DC during the 100th anniversary celebration of America. Both Brolin and Malkovich look like they are just claiming a paycheck and Fox is useless in this film. It is a total waste of all three of their talents. We did have a Tom Wopat sighting which was interesting. It wouldn't be a silly western without Luke Duke. Even Will Arnett, who plays a smarmy union officer, is no good in this too. None of the characters are likable. The most interesting and likable characters in the whole film are Hex's two partners his dog and his horse. Other than the dog, the horse, looking at Megan Fox and an interesting root-idea for a film, the rest of it contains bad editing, poor construction and god-awful music. There are moments in the film where our director Jimmy Hayward, tries to inter-cut different realities, with the current reality in the film to depict the torment in Hex's soul and to increase the tension of the scene, which turns out to be silly and distracting. Wow, an awful, silly, ridiculous moment in film history. I guess a bad comic book made into a movie would become a bad movie. The only reason I didn't give it an "F", other than a few reasons mentioned earlier, is the fact that Hollywood does have the special effects thing nailed down. Boy I am glad it was only 80 minutes long and even then I couldn't wait to get out of the theater.
I never really saw the original A-Team. That came out during my college years and I never had time for it, and what I did see really didn't catch my attention. From what I have read and heard from others, this film was loyal to the original show. I went with a friend, who was a big fan of the original A-Team show and he filled in some of the gaps for me like B.A's fear of flying. They dish out great stunts and special effects, as well as the ridiculous ones. The script was constructed well because it gave you the feeling that you had just watched about seven episodes. They broke it up into nice compacted sections and gave you that block-buster boost to these mini-sodes that flowed quite well. It is what it is. A cheesy TV show that is fair to say, a television icon, that has been remade with 2010 techniques that delivers exactly what it is supposed to. I do want to find out what happened between Mr. T and the Producers of this film because there is not a cameo at all in the film and that stings even more once you watch the scene at the end of the end credits. Why was he so detached from this film? That's all I'm sayin'. I have heard and read that some people had problems with the actor's portrayals of the characters. Well, maybe it is a good thing that I don't know the A-Team, because I thought they were fine. I probably won't make it a huge goal to see this again, at least not until I watch the original show and that might not happen for a long time. What, I really want to say is, "I pity da' fool who don't watch this movie at least once".
When I first heard of this film being made I got really nervous. I felt
there was no way they could pull this off. I am a big Jackie Chan fan,
but he is 56 years old now and he could be looked upon as being a
fading star. Well, I couldn't have been more wrong. I was really
surprised by this film. It was great and Jackie shows some really great
acting chops. He gave Pat Morita a run for his money. Jaden Smith put
on a performance like he had been doing this for a long time. He
definitely was channeling his father in this film and that was a good
thing. You could hear the Will Smith sarcasm seeping through with
Jaden's lines. The film-makers made sure not to copy the original film,
but they made sure to honor it. Instead of the main plot arc revolving
around Karate and taking place in Los Angeles with an aging Japanese
Karate instructor and a valley girl girlfriend, this film moves us to
China to learn Kung Fu with an aging Chinese Kung Fu instructor and a
talented Chinese violinist girlfriend. They kept the original title so
to honor it. I mean, come on, The Kung Fu Kid? Doesn't sound right, but
you do not care about that as this film methodically takes us through
the story of a young boy in a strange new land just trying to fit in.
They stay true to all the Karate Kid traditions such as "wax on, wax off". In this film it is "shirt on, shirt off". They made sure to utilize Jackie's fighting abilities and acrobatics by giving him a fight scene. I was worried that wouldn't happen and that would have been a bad move. To not utilize what made Jackie great would have been a waste, but this film doesn't disappoint, plus they don't over-do-it. One fight is all we need. They also made sure to honor a Jackie Chan staple. Jackie traditionally loved showing bloopers during the end credits of all his films and the producers of this film honor that wish by showing production stills at the end of this film. The friendship between the boy and the man that arises out of the script is totally believable and it is a good message because it shows us that two people from different parts of the world can come together and create an excellent allegiance. It is a contrast to the real world feelings happening today between China and the US. We all can get along if we just try. The film doesn't try to demonize China at all and after seeing some of the great shots of China throughout the film you come away understanding its beauty. A surprise hit indeed.
I have been a fan of Russell Brand for a while now, but not for his movies. This is actually my first film of his that I have seen. I got to know him from his various appearances on Letterman and Conan O'Brien. Anyway, I was excited to see one of his films finally. Jonah Hill plays a normal guy who works as an intern in the offices of a music business and gets the unwitting opportunity to pitch a concert idea to his boss (Sean 'P. Diddy' Combs), that involves bringing Russell's character back to the States for a concert in L.A. Unfortunately, the Director/Writer of the film picks a tired, overused character design in the guise of the typical drug-ridden, big-haired, British-1980s-like star who has seen better days and needs a come-back scenario that has been seen and heard time after time. The comedy unfolds methodically in the beginning, dishing out the laughs at a slow boil. Or, at least, it felt like that. The movie starts out slow in the beginning, gets going in the middle but crashes in the end. By the time you get to the end of the movie you do not like any of the characters and the message, although received is ignored because we have heard it a million times. Brand is very talented. He has a wonderful scene where he calls his ex-girlfriend and finally you begin to like this guy, but it is a little too late. Hill just seemed to be there, although he had his moments. Diddy steals the show. He has the most laughs but like everyone else in the movie you just want to punch him out. What we have here is a cute, funny, enjoyable attempt and a film worth seeing at least once, but overall it is repetitive and unoriginal. It felt like they needed to force the comedy out and needed a Herculean effort just to execute, even, the potty-humor.
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