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Brutal and frightening... but not for long.
Eli Roth can be commended for attempting to do something other filmmakers have left only half done. He has attempted to put on film the actual, relentless and somewhat realistic image of torture and pain. The film achieves a cold level of intensity. It makes its audience feel isolated, and successfully prevents anyone from looking at the film with any humor. Its true and dry terror. But it does not last for long.
Only so many bodies can pile up, only so many human beings can be subjected to sadistic torture before the audience gets tired. Thats right: tired. After the first 40 minutes or so, you will desire to leave the theater; not because you can't handle it anymore, but because you've already handled too much.
Roth tried something. He tried a film without humor or cutaways. It didn't work. Hitchcock's old rule remains the same, I'm afraid, when it comes to horror. It's not what you see, its what you don't see. Roth would do well to remember it.
King Kong (2005)
A cinematic heavyweight, a truly emotional epic.
This review contains no spoilers.
Does the film meet up to the hype? That is the question those who have yet to see the film ask the most. The answer is most truthfully yes. Peter Jackson has completed what no filmmaker has been able to do since the birth of modern cinema, that is create and execute a truly wonderful and necessary remake.
This film defines, not redefines, the modern motion-picture. Myself and the audience I sat with exhibited all of the cliché' emotions one has come to NO longer expect from the movies. There was laughter, there were gasps and screams, there was the shuffling of body's amongst the seats as many clambered forward in an attempt to take in what they were seeing, and finally there were tears. Tears that were entirely and wholly justified, as Jackson and his cast borough heart to a film few believed such intense emotion could be brought to.
The movie flowed perfectly, as the main characters were believable, and although the plot was completely unreal (as was the plot of the 1930s original) the film moved so fast no one had time to burden themselves with examining the possibility of some of the events.
Jackson and his cast have rejuvenated a struggling and boring cinema, they have resurrected the almost dying art of epic film-making. Hopefully other filmmakers will take not of what Jackson has done, he has thought of his audience, his story and his movie, NOT of his financial investment.
Perhaps more films in the future will look upon this modern-day classic, this epic of epics and follow suit. For if that was the case, all films would be truly worthy of the place in history the 2005 version of KING KONG will receive.
Go see this movie, you may be pleasantly surprised at how very good it really is.
Horrifically Bad Adaptation.
This film was just plain poorly made, there is no trying to deny that. It was based on a 300 page (fairly easy to adapt) world record breaking novel that in the opinion of many is one of the best books ever written. When it was announced that director Chris Columbus would helm the project, many moaned and groaned, his previous works have lacked in... erm... entertainment. Steve Kloves was assigned to adapt, Kloves is not as seasoned a man as several other talented screenwriters. So we now have a mediocre director and screenwriter assigned to one of the potentially greatest films of all time. It was expected that the actors who would eventually play the trio would have to be 'green' (unexperienced) because veteran child actors are often not right for franchise roles. So a new ensemble, a poor director, and a mediocre screenwriter. But it could still have come out good right?... WRONG! Chris Columbus' direction was absolutely appalling! His incoherent transitions, unchanging camera angles, lack of any use of dolly shots, over-use of tracking shots, monotonous lighting, and complete ignorance to inform his actors how to actually act, immediately contributed to the collapse of this picture. Kloves' writing didn't contribute any quality to the abysmal film either. The novel was an epic: written as an epic, described as an epic, and sold as an epic. So why was the script written like a quirky independent film? Furthermore the CGI in this film (despite Columbus' excuses of time restrictions) INEXCUSABLE! You do not have ghosts float in 2D patterns as though designed on Apple iMovie when you have a budget exceeds 100 Million dollars! Now: The Ensemble. Too many reviews have been published tearing apart the acting of the three actors portraying the most well known characters in history. So I won't... JUST KIDDING! The acting was and remains now, encased in DVD releases, some of the worst in cinema history. "You mean? That thing was Voldemort?" was meant to be spoken in a spine-chilling and dragged-out way that made the audience cringe in terrifying realization, and was instead spoken as though Harry Potter had stumbled upon a surprise party. Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson deliver some of the MOST irritatingly bad lines ever spoken, it's rather easy to simply learn to not over-act, to not under-act, to just act! Espesially in a role so perfectly described in books. Rupert Grint was tolerable. The movie was an enormous insult to the well-written book of the same name and despite the hype surrounding the apparent attraction ten year old girls have to Daniel Radcliffe (whose normal weight does not fit the skinny persona described in the book) and the "amazing" (gag) special effect, most critics and fans alike cannot bare to even watch the film a first or for those unfortunate ones like myself a second time. I only wonder if, somehow seeing how bad the movie adaptation would be, J.K. Rowling would have instead named the Centaur Firenze: Torgo.
Somewhere Gene Wilder is hiding in shame.
In 1994 I read Roald Dahls classic tale about a boy named Charlie Bucket and the realization of his wildest dreams.
Roald Dahls book, Charlie & The Chocolate Factory was supposedly made into a major motion picture years ago, starring Gene Wilder as the eccentric and borderline physcotic Willy Wonka. Wilders version was considered a classic by many, including myself... until now!
Wilders version is noticeably weak when stood against this true ADAPTATION (not remake) of Dahls epic tale. Augusts screenplay was pure unmitigated genius, backed up by Burtons strong directing that accurately reflects the tone of the book. And lest we forget the ace ensemble which is also noticeably stronger than the rather mediocre performances of the lesser version. Most of all Depp is excellent at playing a Wonka that is truly as intended by Dahl (a child trapped in a man's body, not a reasonably mature tap dancer) Unlike the Wilder film, CATCF's darkness is complementary to the story, rather than seeming out of place.
Once I was forced to tolerate what seemed like a hasty movie version of a classic book, and now I am able to fully enjoy a true adaptation with a rational ending and a fine effort. This deserves to hold the place as the true tale of Charlie Bucket and Willy Wonka, not the so called "original."
The Exorcist III (1990)
An Excellent Thriller.
This movie should NOT have been called The Exorcist III, it should have been called the Legion, or even the Exorcist II. It has nothing to do with that piece of crap second installment. This story follows the gruesome trail serial killings in the city Georgetown. The murders are shockingly similar to the killing spree of the Gemini killer years earlier.
The twisting plot, shocking murders, incredible acting (minus Brad Dourif, who was AWFUL!) and chilling cinematography all contribute to make this one of the most underrated movies of all time.
Brad Dourifs terrible acting nearly destroyed the credibility of his monologues.
******** (8) out of ********** (10)
The First and Last Star Wars Prequel To Deserve Respect.
THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS, IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE FILM, BE AWARE.
When "Return Of The Jedi" ended it's run in 1983, fans of the Star Wars galaxy had nothing to turn to except for some books (which were either incredibly good or gut- wrenchingly bad) a couple of comic books, and a mediocre video game here and there. But in 1994, a new hope! George Lucas announced, the much speculated and rather violently desired prequel trilogy of the Star Wars saga, would finally be made! It seemed we would finally catch a glimpse of Noble The Jedi prior to their collapse, a glimpse of young Darth Vader, a glimpse of Luke and Leia's mother even! We would see Yoda in his prime and witness, for the first time, the Star Wars universe: created with an expensive armada of technological glory. We were all expecting a movie that would rival the original trilogy in adventure and excitement...
We were all malevolently given a disappointing, pathetic, almost unbelievably terrible piece of motion picture waste. In place of adventure we received Senate Commitee debates, instead of amazing new characters we received Jar-Jar Binks. Instead of the noble Jedi in their prime, we witnessed a group of overly humble, midicolorian-ologists. Yoda was more immobile then he was in this waste of film, then he was in "The Empire Strikes Back" and Samuel L. Jackson, whilst being the only actor in the film (save for Anthony Daniels and Frank Oz) whose skills were not questionable, portrayed a character who felt undeniably out of place. The light saber fighting was easily put to shame by another release that year: "The Matrix" We longed for the old-school two handed fighting of New Hope, not some half-witted attempt to be a martial arts movie. Young Darth Vader? We expected a child, we even expected innocence. What we got was a sugar-coated puppet, whose poor acting was rivaled only by the poor character. Episode I was an utter failure as a Star Wars movie, and movie in general. Was there no hope? Alas! There was another! Episode II: we were promised more action, more romance, less Jar-Jar! This one, while a major improvement on E1, did not deserve the same title as the George Lucas classics of the late 70's and early 80's. An attempt to create a romance between Anakin and Padme was easily foiled by some of the worst acting in cinematic history. The so-called "epic" Jedi battle was little more then Jedi waving their light saber from left to right, to deflect droid fire. The only thing that made this film remotely tolerable were the excellent acting of Ewan McGreggor, Frank Oz, and Ian McDiarmid (Christopher Lee, is an excellent actor, but was given a terrible character to work with) The storyline of Obi-Wan's detective spree was an unexpected success, and the Yoda fight scene was a lovable gem in an unforgivably poor film.
So after two terrible films, surely there could be no hope for this third and most essential one, right? Wrong. In a stunning move, Lucas actually proved that he hadn't gone insane and that he still remembered how to make an epic movie. "EPISODE III: REVENGE OF THE SITH" starts off shaky. A rather unimpressive space battle, is followed by a carbon copy (from E2) light saber fight between the evil Count Dooku and Anakin Skywalker ends with Anakin executing the helpless dark lord. Now the film picks up, unlike the first two, the senate meetings are now frightening and relatively similar to the dealings of Adolph Hitler during the rise of Nazism. The light saber fights are some of the best action sequences ever to be recorded on film (I mean that digital stuff). The battle between Palpatine and The Jedi is the stuff of film myths. The battle between Yoda and Palpatine is even more exciting and original than the fight in E2. The final duel is a heart-pounding revelation of true Jedi ability. The acting in this film is perfect from almost everyone (Sorry Natalie Portman). The characters are exciting and fun. But by far the number one reason this film is cemented as magnificent legend is because of the montage of the death of the Jedi. "Order 66" and the attack on the Jedi Temple are spectacular and emotional.
Overall Lucas has saved his dignity with this one and provided and more than enjoyable epic, that by the way earns its PG-13 rating (and borderlines R) in terms of violence and terrifying events.
The Hunting of the President (2004)
Shock revelation backed up by pure truth! Chilling.
This documentary revealed in a narrative style, how shockingly powerful the campaign to destroy Bill Clinton was.
The documentary ran like a thesis paper. Each statement was backed up by several facts, with at least one reputable political figure backing it up. There were also several confessions from well know republicans involved as well.
The narrative style backed up by Morgan Freeman's dark voice provided yet another bonus.
It truly provides an insight you've never seen. It changed my views on Clinton and how far certain political partys will go to get their way.
Music- 4 Out of 5 Narration- 5 Out of 5 Proof- 5 Out of 5
Overall- 9.5 Out of 10
Jack & Bobby (2004)
It has greatness within it's grasp.
I watched the first episode of Jack & Bobby which airs tonight on a promotional DVD that was provided by Entertainment Weekly.
The show is innovative, it is a futuristic documentary that centers around the president of the United States between 2040-2048 and looks back to when he was a normal (or not so normal) kid in our present day. The show is pretty darn innovative, mixing some great creativity of our future, with some even more great realization of our current lives. It shows how one child, not too different from you and me can grow up to be president.
The cast is nice, great chemistry between all of the actors, and no significantly weak links among any of the cast, although the boy who plays Bobby's conformist friend could have stood some more acting lessons. The story for the pilot was great, it involved Bobby's mother and brother fighting over how he should be raised, and it deals with drugs in a smart gritty way, not how 7'th Heaven would deal with it. But again, most of all is how the show seems to blend Futuristic Political Documentary With Present-Day gritty drama, so seamlessly.
8/10 - I have high hopes for this one!
Any Given Sunday (1999)
A Rolling Stone Gathers No Moss.
Oliver Stone is probably one of the only directors in history who can make films based on a very wide range of subjects (The Vietnam War, JFK, Jim Morrison, Neo-Nazi's, Zombie Hands, War Time Photographers, Urban Road Trips, Football, and Alexander The Great) and still keep his own VERY VERY DISTINCT style. Let me try to prove my point: Steven Spielberg has a range of film-making like no one else, but unless you can identify the music he uses, you have no way of knowing it is a Spielberg film, he had no style to identify himself. Then again there are directors like Quentin Tarantino, his style of film-making is precise, you can tell when your watching a Tarantino flick, but Tarantino has no range, all of his films have been centered around the violence/crime genre. Stone on the other hand does have both range and trademark style. His flashy- dual colered-quick cut-slow motion, technique has been his calling card since JFK. But what happens when you take that technique and add it to something as everyday as football... ANY GIVEN Sunday happens.
ANY GIVEN Sunday is by far, not Stone's worst. In fact it's entertaining, if at the least tolerable. The plot of Sunday is well... empty. It's just a regular football story. It is when stone swoops in with his style that the film separate's from it's genre. The style is perfect for the game of football. Hard Hit's, good music, and a portrait of the sport like no other.
Acting: Excellent. Pacino gives a great performance, he plays a moderate man, who doesn't love yelling (now thats different). Diaz is excellent, one of her less sleazy and more real performances. Fox, Quaid, and Woods all do a great job as well. L.L. Cool. J. is to overblown, his performance is over-the-top and irritating at times.
Writing: OK. The plot is hollow but it builds a good foundation for the rest of the film to come together nicely.
Directing: Great. Classic Stone, blends perfectly with the game of football. Doesn't over direct as he did with "U-Turn" and isn't as egotistical as many critics claim.
Music: Great. Wonderful score and songs blend perfectly with the direction and story.
Overall: 7.5/10 NEED TO RENT, Worth a buy. (Suggested: DVD)
The Passion of the Christ (2004)
Good Movie, whether or not it's true.
SPOILERS LIE AHEAD.
Mel Gibsons The Passion is a good movie based on the best selling novel of the same name. The original book "The Passion Of The Christ." Is essentially a fictional novel based on certain gospels quotes about the last twelve hours of Christ's life. While the novel does not fabricate or re-edit any gospel quotes, it effectively omits certain ones, while simultaneously placing others in an out-of-sequence order to manipulate the story and thus embellish it without changing anything.
It is hard to compare this film to other movies, as there have been few that use this same style, however it can be said that the movies overall plot is rather hollow, (Christ is arrested, tortured, killed, and resseructed.) The acting is incredible, and it is safe to say Cavizel deserves an oscar nominaion. What really hit me hard about the movie is the unbelievable music. The music not only accentuates the movie, it makes the movie seem inspirational. The movie in all honesty is not inspirational or educational at all, it shows only christ's pain and (quite a bit of his) blood. It shows nothing of his teachings.
To quote an episode of "South Park": "Lots of people were tortured and crucified in those times, it shouldn't be about Christ's suffering, it should be about his teachings."
The movie was good, whether it's fact or fiction, it'll kill two hours.
Plot - **/*****
Overall- 7 Out Of 10