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Spider-Man 2 (2004)
Best surprise in a long time.
Generally in most cases sequels are just scams on making money and they generally disappoint fans of the first film. There are a few exceptions however. The Empire Strikes Back, Back to the Future part 2, the Indiana Trilogy, Lord of the Rings, etc etc.
I would also like to say that I am a big fan of Sam Raimi. I grew up watching his Evil Dead series and all his other early works. Its weird how his counter part from New Zealand (Peter Jackson) had the same start and is now directing major blockbusters as well.
Spiderman 2 is in every way better than the first film. The music stands out, the camera work pays tribute to Raimi's early works. And Raimi is not afraid to slow things down to build up the drama and story. At any given time I found myself in tears because of the subtext meanings of the hero myth. Particularly when spiderman is in the arms of all the people on the train. And when aunty talks about the importance of a hero to Peter.
Several scenes feature the rapid cuts and tight shots that Raimi used in his older films. (Evil dead 1, 2 and Army of Darkness) Those hardcore Raimi fans know what I'm talking about. And yes rumors are true, there is a CHAINSAW. There is also a slapstick element that showed up a few times. For instance when parker went to bring in the pizza and he couldn't get the mops to stay in the closet. Also one can not forget the rather funny cameo of Bruce Campbell as the snooty doorboy. I wish they would let him play a villain! Bruce Campbell could pull something like that off easily. And for those of you that said the homages and cameos made the film too comical forget that the film is based off of a COMIC. Comics are supposed to make you laugh, cry, etc etc. It is a perfect drama that everyone should go see.
There is quite a bit of CGI but it does not bother me one bit because the story is so rich. Also at times it was also breath taking. With the music and subject matter at hand the action sequences worked perfectly.
The Danny Elfman score is solely responsible for making me cry. At dramatic points in the film his touch gave all the scenes a perfect feel that is traditional with his work. Fans will not be disappointed.
I generally despise most modern summer action films because they are usually rushed and over hyped. Spidey 2 made me realize how much I enjoyed the first film and how much potential the third will have. Don't let us down Sam!
Day of the Dead 2: Contagium (2005)
A wonderful example of...
a cheap cash in on a now popular genre. It is obvious that Taurus wanted to cash in on the Dawn remake so they popped this out to make some money. This film should be avoided at all costs.
The film is in a sense a prequel to Day of the dead. It explains the apparent zombie outbreak to a Russian spy plane that crashes in 1968. Inside the plane are a dead pilot and some strange vials. The vials are brought to a military hospital where the patients and staff start getting a weird sickness. First off the outbreak should never be explained. The ambiguous nature of Romero's universe makes it work. When you explain it the story just turns into a cheeseball fest. From there a special forces team comes through and kills everyone, destroys the hospital and the vials except for one.
35 years go by and now the military hospital is a mental hospital. From here you have a horrible socio/political attempt to get the social commentary like the original day of the Dead. Unfortunately the film lacks Romero's touch and the acting is dreadful. The film is gory however but not at the same intensity as Savini's work. Check it out for the same reason you watched the Dawn Remake. it has zombies but it is no Romero.
Band of Brothers (2001)
What an incredible WWII effort.
My favorite war film was once saving private ryan. but there is something this series has that SPR did not have. After going back to SPR I only admire it for the technological aspect. The characters in Band of Brothers is the main driving force. The transitions, the score, and the acting is top notch. The film does not bombard you with mindless action. You are watching characters you care about getting there legs blown off. I found my self in tears more than once watching this series. Go out and watch this now. Hell buy the dvd set. It is loaded with extras and worth EVERY PENNY.