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Including The Spongebob Squarepants movie.
Terminator Salvation (2009)
Very good, but so much wasted potential
While watching the movie, I found myself highly entertained. Sure, it wasn't really anything like the other Terminator films, but it still was a great action movie with a pretty cool story and good acting. The music was a little melodramatic and there would be some brief cheesy moments, but I didn't dislike it. The only thing that I really felt let down by was the ending, because it came so quickly. It has one of those disappointing endings, where you only see it coming in probably the last two minutes, sort of like in I Am Legend and War of the Worlds, other blockbusters with major potential laid to waste.
But while I can excuse the films a little better, I cannot do the same for this. There have been previous films in the to-be saga (trust me, they leave out what could have been a good way to end the series in order to continue it), and they are just so well-done it's hard not to hold them up on a high standard. Even though T3 was kind of a stupid movie, it still remained loyal to the other films and did what it could with its lame story. This one has a much better story but it was so rushed and underdeveloped that you didn't really feel anything for the characters except for John Connor, and you only feel for him because his character has been established in the previous two films, not so much in this one.
No, the real star of the film is Sam Worthington as Marcus Wright, a man who has been living a lie and doesn't know it yet. This aspect of the story was good but again, underdeveloped, and had McG or the storywriters or studio taken the time to more carefully develop the characters and slow down the film a little in spots, people might be putting this up on the same level as the original Terminator or possibly even the legendary Terminator 2, one of the greatest actions movie of all time.
It has such high standards and expectations to live up to, and that's why it's such a disappointment. They got the story right, and the action as well, but they didn't know when to stop and just focus on the who the characters were before jumping back into the action. And even though I enjoyed it a lot while watching it, it took me about an hour to realize how great this film could have been, and it only came out as not bad. It really deserves a 6/10, but I'm going to give it a 7 because I did have a good time watching it. Let's just hope for the next two films the director takes a step back and realizes to slow down the film without leaving anything hanging in the air.
There Will Be Blood (2007)
The greatest character film of all time
I love films, and this is one of my favorites. Daniel Plainview is one of the most heavily developed characters in film, possibly of all time. The story never loses sight of its main character, and instead of being a plot-driven story, it's a character driven-story, culminating in a violent and brutal end.
Daniel Day Lewis more than earned the Oscar win, delivering one of the all time greatest screen performances. He plays the hateful and greedy Daniel Plainview, a 'sophisticated' but ruthless oil man who will do whatever he can to get his hands on money, and will get rid of anyone who stands in his way, even if it hurts him. He's emotionless and cold, and many people not only find it dark to watch, but boring because everything Daniel Plainview is affects the story, not the other way around. This isn't like your summer action movie, about some character who happens to stumble along and is affected by a chain of events of which he doesn't actually contribute, this is a deep and well-thought out character-driven film with amazing performances, cinematography, and odd but fitting music. Plus, it's time, believe it or not does not seem too long, because the director spaces out his more climactic scenes smoothly and just paces everything dramatically well, he doesn't rush anything for the sake of time nor does he let it come to a crawl. That's the mark of a great director, when they can tell a long story just perfectly.
I really hope that in time this film will be able to be recognized as a true American classic. Paul Thomas Anderson put an epic one out there. And just because it didn't appeal to a younger audience like "No Country for Old Men", it was given the cold shoulder by the Academy, but I hope that one day, this younger generation, whose appreciation for quality film has deteriorated, will be able to acknowledge this as one of the most frightening dramas of all time. I recommend it. It will haunt you. 9.3/10.
The Happening (2008)
Not THAT bad...
I had not heard one good comment about this movie, and when my mother bought me the DVD for my birthday, I was disappointed. All the critics hated it, people on here hated it, my friend (who had not seen it) was putting it down and had heard it was terrible, and it did poorly in the box office. The movie failed every possible way critically. But I sat down and watched it- I mean, my mother did buy it for me and I felt bad by ignoring it. Plus, it's a Shyamalan film, and I like his films.
It wasn't terrible, but I wasn't too fond of the majority of it. Mark Wahlberg was awful, cheesy in every sense of the word, and just gave an overall campy, unrealistic performance. I don't think it was intended to be funny, but maybe if Shyamalan aimed for a horror spoof more type of film, I would've caught Wahlberg's humor. But that's not this type of movie.
Zooey Deschanel is equally bad, pretty much doing the same things as Wahlberg. The dialogue written for them is terrible, as it is for other characters as well (An army officer, instead of saying "Oh my god", says "Cheese and crackers!" I mean, come on, really?) The dialogue is tasteless and dumb, and other subplots which could've been developed on (*cough*Joey*cough) were done unrealistically awful and were left undeveloped. It wasn't even written that Wahlberg's character really cared, and his attempt to show it was bad (as usual). The only actor who did a good job was Leguizamo, who didn't have much screen time at all.
The movie doesn't scare very much, but it definitely entertains, and creates a sense of dread within the first minute (when that girl pulled out the pen, my stomach dropped and I braced myself for the worst, and it seemed like hours for her to commit the act I knew she would). However, the movie takes place in broad daylight, and the plot isn't scary as in horror scary, it's just a horrific thing happening over and over again. The only time I again got scared was during a random section of the movie, which happened to turn out good, towards the end during the characters' journey into an old woman's house. Other than that, the movie doesn't scare, but the premise is dark and horrific, so I can see people being pretty disgusted.
I think Shyamalan was aiming for a PG-13 film here, especially with some of the campy dialogue, the violence and gore happening off-screen, and only one scene with mild cursing. But it got the R rating, and I think that hurt in the box office, because I'm sure many 13 year olds would've saw this and enjoyed this. Sure, it's not an awesome movie, and the negatives outweigh the positives, but it wasn't terrible, and I was entertained, which is the most important thing for any movie to do. Don't go in expecting a great movie, but it's really not as bad as everyone says. 5.5/10.
Lord of the Flies (1990)
Awful adaptation of a great and dense book
The book is one of the best, and the film version here is very rushed and poor. Bland acting from the kid who is supposed to be Ralph, unfitting music (in some parts) and complete ignorance of the dramatic parts pretty much proved to me that the director had no idea what the book was actually about.
The book version of Lord of the Flies is a dark, symbolic look into the sadistic side of human nature, symbolic of society and what happens when a bunch of boys who have not had the experience to keep their anger under control learn this lesson the hard way. Like I said, it is very dark and unsettling, and the actual Lord of the Flies itself is the key that reveals the seed planted in all of us.
The film version is about a bunch of boys who crash on an island, make a fire, play a little, one kid bullies another, and they automatically split up and become savages. Even common sense is avoided, as the story is rushed it doesn't take time to answer the simple questions the book does. There is very little dialogue, and key moments are completely ignored. The actual Lord of the Flies is not even explained in the film. It's just a really weak film.
The only characters selected perfectly were Jack and Piggy, especially Piggy, he was the only one that when I saw him I automatically thought "Oh my gosh, that's Piggy!" He is portrayed even more perfectly than in the book, though his performance is cut short due to the length of the film and the director's willingness to skip over as much as possible of the book. I wish I could've skipped over the entire film. I don't recommend this, especially for people who HAVE read the book. For people who haven't, it might be at best an okay film. 3.4/10.
I have never read the comics, so I walked in, probably like most, going to see another great superhero movie, and got exactly that. The cinematography and color was excellent, the dialogue flowed out of the character's mouth and tickled the ears, dripping with poetry. The feel was mythological and epic. The acting was good, the action was good, and I was entertained.
However, I felt that the story had very little plot. This probably would be a problem to others, and it usually is to me, but the story focuses a lot more on past experiences rather than the threatening situation at hand. The story goes from one character to the next, narrating their past and history and how they got to where they were and in between, the world of 1985 takes another step closer to Armageddon. One, slow step at a time.
Learning the backstories for ALL the characters pretty much kept the movie from having a true main character (although technically I would say it was Rorshach, and he was by far my favorite character as well), and the blurred line between good and evil lies within them all. It's well-crafted but lives in the past and so leaves us with very little plot. Most of it is just "sensory" candy, by providing excellent visuals and slow-motion brutal action sequences and rich dialogue.
It's no Dark Knight, which is the film it will probably be closest to since it is the next big superhero/comic-book adapted story to be brought to the screen. However, while TDK focused on the realm of realism and accomplished what no other comic book film has, this goes into the unrealistic realm that movies like Spiderman or X-Men or Sin City went into but takes it a step further. Not a big accomplishment, and not the best superhero movie ever, but it still a highly entertaining, graphic epic full of eye candy. 8.6/10.
The Dark Knight (2008)
This is a GREAT movie
The Dark Knight is something of a masterpiece; it has been hailed across the globe as a fantastic film and has already been mentioned amongst other crime films like Heat, Goodfellas, and even The Godfather. Heath Ledger's Joker has been embraced as one of the all-time best on-screen villains along with memorable characters like Darth Vader and psychos like Hannibal Lecter. The death of Heath Ledger created a massive amount of hype for the film and allowed it to break multiple box office records. But does all this make it a great film? I think that this makes the film groundbreaking, but not necessarily great. What does make it good is that Christopher Nolan was able to please audiences and live up to the ridiculous expectations that everyone had for this film. People were saying how this was going to be hailed as the greatest film of all time, and that Heath Ledger's Joker was going to be insane. A film with such expectations is usually guaranteed to disappoint audiences like Spiderman 3 did, even if it does make an enormous amount of money.
The movie pleased people like me for multiple reasons. I love the memorable score, the cinematography is very good, the story manages to tell a lot without it being rushed or underdeveloping characters, and most of all, the film had many great, memorable scenes. From the opening bank heist to the interrogation scene, from the chase through Gotham to the hospital sequence and to Joker's magic pencil trick, Chris Nolan leaves so much to remember for the viewer. It's all incredibly well-done, and I can't help but applaud it.
The man of the hour of course is Heath Ledger, and that's why everyone went to see it. His Joker is truly sick, and Heath Ledger not just vanishes into the role, but does many little things that really earn him that Oscar nomination (like tossing the drink from his glass before taking a sip), and tonight, the night of the Oscars, I know he's going to win not because he died, but because he truly delivered a GREAT performance.
The other characters do well too, especially Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent, who I think also deserved an Oscar nomination for his performance. Maggie Gylenhaal isn't great but is definitely an improvement over Katie Holmes, and Gary Oldman is a lot better in this one with a bigger role.
I do want to say though that I had some faults with this movie. Most of them are small but still worth noting. As you noticed, I didn't say Christian Bale was excellent because he wasn't. We hardly see Bruce Wayne in this one because the Joker gives him way too much to do, so while audiences were given more than enough of Bruce Wayne in the awesome Batman Begins, we are left with a few brief glimpses of his face here. He is mainly in the Batman role in this one, which I didn't like him as much as in the predecessor because his voice is so raspy you can hardly understand it. There are also some really corny extra characters who have but a few lines but they are completely laughable in a negative way. I'd also like to point out that while Chris Nolan does his best to bring this as close to reality as possible, there are still some things that don't pass (pointing a gun at Harvey in court, and without a second thought, he punches him in the face?). Scenes like that almost made me laugh but thankfully there weren't too many of them.
Overall, this film has some minor issues, but doesn't distract from this masterpiece. The story is one of constant climax, constantly putting the viewer on the edge of their seat, and when you're done watching you want to see it again because you're just so surprised at how good the film is. It's a shame it didn't get the Best Picture nomination because it is better than most of the films nominated, and I'm most disappointed that Christopher Nolan didn't get the Best Director nomination, because he went all the way and did a ton of hard work by using minimal CGI and doing things the hard way while also crafting the story and creating an intimidating Joker for Heath Ledger to expand on. This one gets a 9.5/10, which is almost as good as it can get.
Fight Club (1999)
Absolutely the best movie I have ever seen
I've seen a lot of huge movies at my age: I'm 15 and have seen The Godfather, Goodfellas, Citizen Kane, Gone With the Wind, Raging Bull Casablanca, Lawrence of Arabia, and with the exception of Lawrence of Arabia, I have thought all of them were very great movies. And with all respect, I must say that Fight Club makes them look like total and complete trash.
The movie has the single most clever plot I have ever witnessed on screen. A one-line summary on a movie Internet page doesn't merely begin to describe how large this movie becomes. It is so much more than two guys starting a club to help get out their anger. It is without a doubt, the greatest story to ever be put to screen. I can't say enough how good the story is. They create, without a doubt, the most insane movie character, Tyler Dundren, who is so much bigger and deeper and more intimidating than any other character put to screen.
Tyler Dundren is the most interesting character, because of his view on things. He says a lot of things that make all too much sense and tells us a lot of useless facts that are very interesting and useful to to the film. His outlook on life is so true it's scary if someone ever took it to heart. His character is hypnotic and sucks you in, and you will never be let go.
Edward Norton and Brad Pitt are equally fantastic in their roles, and deserved a nod from the Academy Awards. I would've been OK without the win, the movie relies a lot more on the story than the excellent performances from our two main characters, but they both do an awesome and memorable job. Helena Bonham Carter adds a nice, needed mix between the violence and chaos that ensues in and out of the fight club.
The cinematography is very good, the visual effects work well but sparingly,the dialogue is memorable and some of the best on screen, and the twist is the greatest I have ever seen on the screen. Which is weird because I had predicted it before hand but wasn't one hundred percent sure until it finally happened. After that, my mind was in a complete haze, the whole world of the movie was boggling, and I couldn't believe how awesome it felt.
Even after seeing all those great movies and more, I still felt like there wasn't that film that was completely flawless, the film that you wanted to watch over and over again, the film that was more than perfect. After seeing all those classics, I didn't think there was such a film. Then I saw Fight Club. And you should see it too. I probably have made it sound highly overrated, but trust me, there isn't a doubt in my mind that this is the best film ever. 10/10.
Nothing lasts, and what a shame that is
What Benjamin Button says is true: nothing lasts and thats a shame. It is truly a shame because, the strength and power behind this movie doesn't last its full running time, and I think that's a shame.
As a whole, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was a great movie. Before Benjamin goes off to sea, the movie is some of the best movie-making ever. It's subtle, but memorable and haunting, and the movie reached a level of deepness that almost no movie can achieve. So for the first hour, the movie is a 10.
The movie magic behind Benjamin Button's childhood kind of fades after he goes off to sea and Brad Pitt is brought into the picture. While it is still a great film, it no longer mesmerizes like it did, and unfortunately, sinks a little, but not enough to not call it a great film.
No, the problems really come in shortly after 2 hours into the movie, when Ben finally captures the girl of his dreams. For the first 2 hours, the movie resolves most of its issues which were left loose (because the story is interrupted by the whole sea thing, which was a necessary interruption), so things are wrapped up and then settle down, settling so low that the movie becomes...uninteresting and mediocre. Brad Pitt hits middle age, and I felt like I was just watching two people who loved each other. The chemistry between them starts off strong but as in most marriages, wears off and we are left with nothing. It's only a matter of time though, before Benjamin Button passes middle age and becomes young again, but on the outside.
The movie doesn't show too much of his old age, because the story has been told and they have nothing left to do but wait for Benjamin Button's life to end. So, we watch them do some stuff, like meet each other after years of not seeing each other, and eventually he begins to forget his life and Daisy raises him as if he were a grandson. Then the movie ends.
The last 40 minutes of the movie are rather pointless, and it doesn't help that they decided to tie up all the loose ends earlier in the movie. Had the filmmakers demanded a little more patience from the audience, they could have some of the subplots sit until he reached his middle age to finally wrap things up. But like I said, the story ends too quickly and we just spend the last 40 minutes waiting for Benjamin Button's life to end.
The story has the biggest problem in the movie, which isn't good, for it really hurts the end of the film. The cinematography is beautiful and well-done, the humor is gentle and warm, and the performances are all well-done. The actors and actresses did the best with what they have. The story emotionally doesn't explode at any moment, keeping a little too much calmness throughout the movie, and we are left a bit undersatisifed. There is no hypnotizing climax like I hoped there would be. The story is good, but only for so long. It just doesn't last. And what a shame that is. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button could have been a perfect ten. 8.5/10 (just barely rounded up to a 9, mainly because I loved the first hour so much).
The Abyss (1989)
Great movie with a bizarre ending
MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD. If you don't want to know what happens, then do not continue reading this.
The Abyss was a movie with the potential to be a classic, like "Alien", but in a submarine. The opening scene is thrilling, and after that, its a slow-moving but well-paced adventure into The Abyss. Aboard a rig, a team of oil workers and Navy S.E.A.L.S make their way to the bottom, with high tension between them. Its a great story that works brilliantly for the first 45 minutes.
Then comes the aliens. Up until this point, there has been only one clear reference to aliens, which is the opening scene, and now they are entirely different. I was surprised to see that the aliens actually meant no harm, because it sounded like what the movie was about. The aliens show up a few times throughout the movie, not really bringing any point to the story, and are only there to save Bud (played very well by Ed Harris) at the end and give us all a happy ending.
So, the alien plot is pointless; it really is just there to give a reason for a submarine to crash in the beginning (which they could have made anything), and to save our beloved hero at the end of the film. Visually, the aliens are very impressive, especially the up-close shots of them, but otherwise serve no purpose. The real story is focused on these people in the rig with conflicting personalities, while their rig is crashed below. They encounter a problem with one of the Navy S.E.A.L. Coffey (which is a sick performance by Michael Biehn), and must stop him before he launches a nuclear warhead that can kill them all.
The story is well-paced and long, but provides good action sequences and provides us with a great story on the background of all these characters. All the way up through the climactic battle to stop the nuclear missile, the movie is more than a solid 8/10.
Once they go to disarm the bomb which is 20,000 feet below them do things get really bizarre. Not only does it seem like the movie was supposed to be over and they just needed to be rescued from above, but the movie loses all realism (Ed Harris somehow goes down 20,000 feet while breathing liquid oxygen?), when all hope is lost, the aliens show up and save the day. Oh please! The version I rented also came with a special edition version with extended and deleted scenes, and I'm considering watching it to see if studio interference is what made the final, dragged out half hour so out of place. But I saw the theatrical version, the version everyone else saw in movies, and can say that the movie needed to be over at around the 110 min. mark. It's great up until that point (aside from the pointless aliens plot); it has a strong story and backed by great performances (I really think Michael Biehn should've been nominated for an Oscar in his performance, or maybe even Ed Harris), and goes at a slow enough pace to make us care for the rich characters in the movie. James Cameron visually did a great job and told a great story brought to life by great. He just needed to shave off a half hour and get rid of the aliens. 7.4/10.
The Godfather (1972)
One of the great American masterpieces, but not the greatest
The Godfather has been hyped up to be the all-time greatest movie, rivaling Citizen Kane for the disputed spot. I saw Citizen Kane before I saw this and was blown away, and was excited to finally sit down and see this movie.
There are so many positives to this movie, you can't list them all. One of my favorites is the cinematography. Every angle, all the details are beautifully shot, you can't help but get the epic feel Coppolla was looking for. The actors do a good job, though I did have a hard time understanding Marlon Brando, and I didn't think Al Pacino was necessarily fantastic (except in one key turning point, where the look in his eyes is a haunting one). The music is riveting but subtle and flawless, and the same thing could be said about the first 45 minutes of the movie: flawless. I was convinced I was watching the greatest movie ever made.
Once in Sicily, though, the movie doesn't do all too much. There a few major scenes which are all good, but but doesn't pull it together as a whole like the first 45 minutes. Not until Michael finally returns to America that things pick up again, back in its brilliant state.
Not a moment is boring, and each actor does good job (I especially give props to James Caan as Sonny and Robert Duvall as Tom Hagen, who give tremendous performances). My main problem is the structure of the Sicily section of the movie, which is sort of pointless (sure, we would've had a different story if Michael was in America, but still), and Michael's change from an ordinary man to cold-hearted criminal is a little too sudden for me. In short, the movie was too fast-moving, believe it or not, at its 3 hour running time.
All in all, I cannot claim the Godfather as the greatest of all time. Sure, it's a classic, but there are a very few movies I have seen that I did like better (Raging Bull, for example). I recommend for this anyone, because it shouldn't bore you. Maybe, just don't go in with expectations as high as mine were. Appreciate it for what it is. 9.4/10.