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Casino Royale (2006)
Bond the way it should be
I love the Bond series. I own all of the movies, and have seen them multiple times. As much as I love the overt humor and over-the-top action of a lot of the films, it was nice to finally see a gritty Bond film. There is plenty of incredible action, but what really makes the movie is the intensely dramatic scenes and the powerful acting by the cast.
Craig brings a completely new interpretation of Bond. We can see the pain and emotional conflicts within Bond which are so rarely seen in the series. Craig's performance never ceases to be dead-on perfect. Not only is he cool and witty as we'd expect Bond to be, but he can also portray anger and hurt brilliantly. In this film we see a different kind of Bond. We see a Bond who is not yet on the top of his game. He makes mistakes, he gets misled, and doesn't always complete the mission with perfection. Craig is the perfect blend of what we consider the cinematic Bond and the literary Bond. He brings everything you could want in a Bond to the table.
The rest of the cast was also superb. Mads Mikkelson is dead-on as Le Chiffre. He can be evil and menacing, but wisely does not take the role over the top. The character of Le Chiffre is really a pawn who is in a tough position, and Mikkelson shows how Le Chiffre is really quite frightened for his life. His exchanges of steely glares with Bond at the poker table are some of the best moments of the film. Eva Green is instantly one of the best Bond girls, she is Bond's equal in intelligence and also very sexy. It is believable that a woman like this could take Bond's heart. She is the best Bond girl since Tracy in OHMSS. Giancarlo Giannini is very charismatic in his role, and while his time on screen is usually not long, he makes the character very memorable.
This movie has easily the best dialogue of any Bond movie to date. The writers did a marvelous job, and I think Paul Haggis really helped them with it. Martin Campbell...absolutely incredible directing job. The entire movie was incredibly intense, even during some of the "slower" stretches. Overall the movie was a perfect blend of drama, suspense, and action. It's not only everything you want in a Bond movie, it's everything you want in a movie...period. As a lifelong HUGE Bond enthusiast, I have to say this one was the definitive movie. Perfect in just about every way.
The Boondock Saints (1999)
I'd say over half of the people I know say this is their absolute favorite movie. However, every one of those people I know who say it's their favorite movie aren't big movie-watchers. They like movies for mindless action, or stupid comedy, or cheap scares. I've noticed most reviewers who dislike this film have problems with the morality of this movie. I think movies are movies, and immorality is a part of life, so I think it should be shown in movies. However, this movie has a huge list of other problems that make it virtually unwatchable to the knowledgeable movie-watcher.
Now, there's nothing wrong with just watching movies for mindless action and such, because if it entertains you, then it serves its purpose. But as someone who appreciates the artistic aspects of movies, I have to review it in that manner. This movie has horrendously cartoonish acting by basically all of the people with smaller roles. It is riddled with generic, stereotypical portrayals. Now, if this movie didn't take itself so seriously, that would be perfectly fine. Unfortunately, this is a low-budget movie trying to be an epic Hollywood masterpiece, and it really shows. In taking itself so seriously, it falls desperately short of what it's trying to accomplish. The plot is just a formality in this movie. You can tell it only has a plot because it has to. They seem rather disinterested in the scenes involving character development.
I felt sad for Willem Dafoe. He's a great actor, but here he is in this role he doesn't seem to fit at all. He gives the best performance of anyone in the movie, but even he fails to be believable. I wasn't sure what he was doing in this mess the entire time I was watching it. The two lead actors, Sean Patrick Flannery and Norman Reedus, serve their purpose well enough. You can tell their goal was to just not mess up, they weren't really interested in delivering powerful performances. They manage to not be laughably bad, but are far from good. However, by the end of the film, how can you care about the characters? The movie expects you to be on the side of these terribly boring, uncharismatic characters. You can't have an emotional finish without any form of emotional scenes in the earlier stages.
Finally, notice how this movie is the director's only one. He's no ace director, and the comparisons to Tarantino are disgusting. Even if you like this movie, how can you think it's made in any way like a Tarantino film? The backbone of Tarantino's films and what makes them so great is the consistent brilliant dialogue. Not only does The Boondock Saints not have any brilliant dialogue, it isn't even trying to be big on dialogue to begin with. To compare Duffy to Tarantino isn't even fair, considering Tarantino has consistently made incredibly brilliant films, and Duffy has just made one cult hit that in my opinion is extraordinarily poor. This movie is certainly for those who just watch movies for entertainment. If you are looking for depth, stay far away.
The Da Vinci Code (2006)
Holds one's interest, but disappointing
I was extremely excited to see this movie. I mean, how can you go wrong with Ron Howard, Tom Hanks, and Ian McKellen? Unfortunately, there are a lot of flaws with this movie that made it disappointing, if not below average.
First of all, it is a movie trying to be a book. What I mean by that is that it is easier to follow complexity in written form than in movie form. I was able to follow it, but there are so many twists and turns that each puzzle solved seems to become "just another one". I mean, with so many clues, they start getting old very fast. You start to say "just figure it out already!" Just when you think the puzzle is about to be solved, it's not. And even after all of this, the ending is very predictable (I did not read the book). Some positive aspects are the fact that there is a lot of intensity, stunning visuals, and the violence is well done.
As for the performances, Tom Hanks does not deliver a powerful performance. However, I do not believe it to be his fault. His character is written so poorly that the character has no depth, very cardboard. He is a very boring character who just figures things out, and occasionally feels claustrophobic. Ian McKellen delivers a very good performance, but there is too much of his character. He should be the cool small character that shows up for a little while, steals a couple scenes, and the story moves on. Silas is a great character, but Paul Bettany is shaky. His accent falters a few times, and he displays no acting range in the role. A better actor could have made the part brilliant (imagine Ralph Fiennes in the part). Alfred Molina does a good job, but his character seems completely unnecessary.
With that said, most of the problems with this movie come from the writing. When you make a movie from a book, you have to make the dialogue more powerful and entertaining. This movie had horrendous dialogue, and even great actors like Tom Hanks struggled with it. With better writing, this movie could have been very good. Also, I think a few more of the clues could have been cut out, those were a bit much. It is worth seeing, but fails to live up to expectations.
The Musketeer (2001)
Has its highs and lows
This is a movie that really doesn't know what it is. For one thing, it seems to try and hang on to some parts of the story by Dumas, and yet it also is an entirely different story. Seemingly, the only real similarities are the names of the characters. This movie would be much more effective if it was entirely its own story, and not using the names of the famous characters. The reason? This movie totally dashes the names of those characters.
The most unsettling part for me was the fact that the Three Musketeers are nothing like themselves. Porthos is not the least bit arrogant or over-the-top. Aramis isn't religious at all. And Athos does not even remotely resemble the character in the book. Sadly, Justin Chambers makes a better d'Artagnan than Chris O' Donnell, but only because he doesn't do any acting at all, which is better than the profuse overacting of O' Donnell. And Stephen Rea is a good actor, but his character isn't remotely as menacing as Richelieu should be.
With all of that said, if you just view it as a movie, and try to block the actual story out of your mind, it can be entertaining. The fight scenes are very well done, and the pacing keeps the viewer interested. Perhaps this movie could have been really good if it was about the story of a musketeer NOT named d'Artagnan, and his unique adventure. But since it tries to be an interpretation of Dumas, it falls miserably short. As a movie, it is so-so, but as far as an interpretation of the famous story, it is absolutely terrible.
Wo hu cang long (2000)
The most overrated movie I've seen
This movie got so many rave reviews, I figured it was worth checking out. I was expecting an entertaining movie with great visuals, great action, and a great story. I was extremely disappointed to say the least.
This movie tried to cram so many elements into it that it was left with nothing. It tried to have epic action, fantasy and adventure, and a few love stories as well. Now, you might be thinking, lots of movies have all of those things and are great movies. That is true, but this movie tries to emphasize so many things that it is left a jumbled mess. The plot gets lost somewhere in between the unrealistic action and the love story that seems completely out of place. The plot, while very easy to understand in the beginning, takes more confusing and unnecessary twists and turns than any movie I've ever seen. Really, this is like a trilogy trying to be crammed into one movie.
All we are left with is the admittedly beautiful cinematography. While the scenes look pretty, nothing else on the screen does. The problem is that it does so many things, but falls short of it's goals in every area. It is not one of the better martial arts movies. It does not have one of the better love stories. While some of these elements are mediocre, the movie as a whole fails.
Scariest slasher film ever
Some spoilers If you are a big horror movie fan, then you will know that Halloween paved the way for many slasher films. Often imitated, never duplicated, this movie is a true horror classic and is definitely one of the scariest movies ever made, if not THE scariest.
I actually saw this movie after seeing the rest of the series (don't ask me why). I honestly saw the other 7 movies before seeing this one, that's just how it worked out. But I would have to say this one blows all the others away. It is genuinely frightening, and seeing Michael pop out from behind a bush or walk around in the dark sends a chill down your spine. My favorite part of the movie was when Michael stabs a guy, and leans his head to one side. It is one of the eeriest images in movie history.
Later slashers, such as the Friday the 13th films, were more fun and less intense than this movie. I do like the F13 series better than the Halloween series, but this movie alone is better than all the F13 movies. Michael Myers is such a scary villain because he is realistic, you could imagine a crazed guy like him going around killing people. I admit this movie gave me nightmares after watching it for a few nights.
What's great about this movie is that it doesn't rely on gore or humor to entertain the audience. It is just pure terror. It's too bad the later films of the series swayed from this one, because this is as good of an example of a spectacular slasher movie as they come.
Batman Begins (2005)
The definitive batman movie!
I am not a huge Batman fan, although I did enjoy the first 3 movies and when I was younger I was a regular viewer of the animated series. However, I didn't believe that any of the movies had accurately captured what Batman is all about. The first movie was almost all Jack Nicholson, the second just didn't have a whole lot of action, and Batman Forever had far too much comedy in my opinion. Batman and Robin, well, I don't think I need to say anything about that movie.
I was really excited to see Batman Begins, because it looked like they had finally made a more gritty and less outrageous Batman movie. Let's just say that after seeing it, it definitely exceeded my highest expectations. Even if you aren't a big Batman fan, this is just a great movie in general. It has enough action, the right amount of comedy, some excellent drama, and I must admit a few parts made me jump.
Christian Bale blows all the other actors who portrayed Batman away, even Keaton. Bale IS Batman. He is the first guy to really be good at portraying both sides of Batman, meaning the Dark Knight and Bruce Wayne. The rest of the cast is definitely top-notch, everyone seemed to fit their part perfectly. Liam Neeson was the perfect choice for his role as Ducard, and like Bale as Batman, I can't picture anyone else in the role. It also featured strong performances by Katie Holmes, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, and Cilian Murphy as the Scarecrow.
This movie bring all the elements of Batman together. It has his rough and difficult past, it is the best at explaining how he became Batman. It also has a very outrageous plot, as every Batman movie should. It is definitely more realistic and intense then the previous Batman films, but it still fits in some welcome comic relief. This is BY FAR the best Batman film to date, the only problem is....how will they ever top this?
Die Another Day (2002)
Whoever said this movie sucked doesn't know what their talking about. I expected the opinions to be varied for this movie, but i didn't expect people to say it's the worst bond ever. This was by far the most far-out plot for a bond movie in my opinion, but with bond the more outrageous the better. It was full of interesting characters and some pretty good acting. Sure there were some things that were pretty pathetic and un-bondlike. SPOILER ALERT!!!: For example, James Bond never gets captured! That was really awful and uncool. Also, there was no point in him being captured as it added nothing to the story. Another bad thing was when he was surfing on the glacier, you could tell he was in front of a screen. The casting is near perfect. Halle Berry is pretty good, and Toby Stephens is a good villain. Gustav is not one of the better Bond antagonists, but he has the best death ever. It wasn't one of the best Bond films, but it was a welcome change. It is just pure fun, and that's how James Bond films were originally meant to be.