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Fantastic. Utterly outstanding. I'll not go in to plot points or ruin any of the great or humorous moments from this little treasure. Brett and Burke do by far the most engaging and fiercely intelligent Holmes and Watson to grace the screen in decades.
I can only guess as to what a travesty the new Robert Downey Jr./Jude Law team-up will provide, considering one is from Hollywood and the other's been there so long he'll probably have to put on an accent, as well. It looks over-the-top, the kind of re-imagining that will break the hearts of older generations of fans to watch, if only because it is all glamorized, overly-dramatized, and so far removed from the class and true wit the characters possessed originally, and which was so obviously the main focus of Brett's and Burke's faithful portrayals. I lament that a new generation will most likely hear of Sherlock Holmes and think, "Yeah, Iron Man was in it, and it was ACTION-PACKED!" Brotha, it happened to the Ninja Turtles, it happened to Pelham 1-2-3, it definitely happened with the likes of 3:10 to Yuma, and I fear it's about to happen to Holmes.
Tropic Thunder (2008)
Not the best, not what I expected, but it saved Tom Cruise.
I don't have much to say about this movie. The humor was pretty transparent, I got all the references to Hollywood and which actors they were digging on and still couldn't force a laugh. The only funny moment, apart from anything coming out of Les Grossman's mouth, might have been Downey Jr. saying, "We cool, right?" to which Alpa Chino (really clever name, Stiller) replies, "Not really." At least it was a slap in the face for the all the fans of "White Chicks" who once called black-face a dirty, racist shtick. Now we know it's just not funny, period -- white or black.
Luckily, I saw this movie for the first time right after I saw "Valkyrie".
Get where this is going?
Of course, I wouldn't listen to the reviews: "Tom Cruise is good for a laugh," etc. "Valkyrie" was great, if you can ignore Tom Cruise's lackluster performance, or just ignore him altogether (if they'd filmed him at home for a week he'd have made a better Nazi, I'll bet). So I left the theater, 10 bucks in the hole, and the worst part was that Hitler won in the end! Who saw that one coming?! Anyway, I was disappointed in "Valkyrie," but I knew I had "Tropic Thunder" on DVD, sitting unopened at home. I popped it in, hoping against hope to restore my faith in recent movies, which it didn't. It made me wish Ben Stiller would've given up after "Meet the Parents."
It wasn't until halfway through that I realized it was Tom Cruise up there in the best role I've seen him in yet. His foul-mouthed, larger-than-life Grossman, like James Lipton on a pot of espresso and a handful of Stacker-2s, was nothing short of terrific. He utterly saved this film for me, injecting laughs after long bouts of watching Ben Stiller do his whiny face in the jungle, while he also sent "Valkyrie" the way of the July Plot. Just a funny coincidence that I saw both in four hours' time, and that he ruined a decent sort of film while saving a really bad one. He's a wild card, and not to be trusted with anyone's lead role. If you're a producer considering Tom Cruise, please consider that he'll more than likely either make or break your film, and no matter what he does, he will not fit in.
Punisher: War Zone (2008)
Hands-Down, The ONLY Punisher movie so far...
Wow! I've been reading The Punisher since I was six - so, 17 or 18 years now (no, Mrs. Gore, I'm not deranged by overexposure to senseless violence from a young age, just a fan), and I've been waiting ever since then for someone to make a true-blue adaptation flick. The Dolph Lundgren film had already been out for a year or so (on tape), and I thought it was tops, save the lack of skull and rearrangement of Frank's story). It just felt like a good Mike Baron or Chuck Dixon-styled story. For a while after the first slew of Punisher volumes died off, I drifted away, after the failed 1995 series of Punisher comics, and when the 2004 film with Tom Jane came out, I had no idea who Bumpo, Dave (spacker!), Joan, or the Russian were. I got some of the new Garth Ennis stories, found out where these joke characters came from, and didn't feel AS slighted, just disappointed that Punisher had gone so soft. Also, they still couldn't get his story straight.
Then I found out about the MAX line, and my love for the character was rekindled. No more campy bad guys, no more Ma Gnucci, Russians, or Frank's good-natured neighbors. Micro died (in the most unbelievable way possible), the violence was intense, and the stories read like the best originals from the eighties, perhaps even better.
Well, Lexi Alexander, her production crew, and a terrific cast finally made a Punisher movie worthy of the title. I was weary, after two failed attempts, that this would simply be a continuation of the failed adaptation policy that seems to govern this character on film. Everything felt right. JIGSAW, for Christ's sake! Dominic west played the villain to a "T", and you can tell these actors read up on their characters. When I heard Wayne Knight was up to play Microchip, I couldn't think of a better choice and waited eagerly for over a year to see it - and he was perfect.
The changes to the stories surrounding each character are very minor, and Ms. Alexander even finally got the story of Frank's origins down pat (minus the fact that Hollywood still has him as a high-profile ex-FBI and a Gulf War vet, not the half-crazed Vietnam survivor of the comics).
And the best part? NEW YORK! No more Miami, no more "nondescript major city" (as in the 1989 film). No more naked prayer in the sewers, either!
This film deserves best comics adaptation, period. I went into it expecting very little, if only because of the film's failed predecessors. Also, I was unsure of Ray Stevenson. Boy, was I wrong to doubt...
The Cleveland Plain Dealer ran a review taken from the Orlando, FLA Sentinal, which denounced the film for its violence, dialogue, acting, etc. (Rating? "D-"). That review said Tom Jane looked "like a wise man" for turning down the chance to return to the role. Well, I say Tom Jane never was the Punisher. The canon of Punisher film adaptations should begin fresh with Ray Stevenson's Frank Castle. He captured, embodied Frank in a way any fans of the real comic (namely, Vol. I, Vol. II, Eliot Brown's "ARMORY", The War Journal, The War Zone, and the MAX series) could truly appreciate, and probably could no longer hope for. The only detractor is that this film is still in theaters, and not yet available on DVD...
This film is perfect in capturing its subject matter, and while its specifics may not appeal much to those unfamiliar with the world of Frank Castle, Ms. Alexander still has managed to serve up what fans desire most - a film, unlike its predecessor, "TRUE TO ITS MARVEL ORIGINS." It is a great (though brutally violent) action film, with intense fight sequences enough guns to supply a small army. It should be enjoyed by any fans of the genre.
Thank you, Lexi Alexander. Thank you, Ray Stevenson. Thank you, cast and crew.
Thank you for Finally bringing the most notorious serial killer in the world to life.
And please, consider a sequel (or two)?