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rodmans545

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6 reviews in total 
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Highly entertaining futuristic sci-fi sequel, 28 May 2003
9/10

In an age of high tech special effects laden sequels, sagas and trilogies, the movie- goer's payoff most often comes almost exclusively from a film's visual extravagances and ingenuities rather than any discernable 'new' storylines, or insights. Most stories have already been told and retold and in this respect the Matrix Reloaded, in its basic plotline, is no exception. The idea of machines taking over humanity has been explored intensely in films throughout the last thirty years (i.e. Colossus: The Forbidden Project, Terminator, Terminator 2, Virtuosity, and Artificial Intelligence to name just a few).

However The Matrix Reloaded, sequel to the original blockbuster hit The Matrix, transcends the trap of most high tech futuristic films and sequels with its powerful combination of suspense, martial arts action, special effects, philosophical leanings and yes, a few new plot-twists. The small group of humans, Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), Trinity (Carrie Anne Moss) and now Neo (Keanu Reeves) who penetrated the Matrix and freed themselves of its eerie and often confusing control, have now managed to free thousands of people and are preparing for yet another much larger and potentially cataclysmic confrontation. While much of the film's focus is on the visual artistry of fast action martial arts showdown sequences between these rebels and the agents of the Matrix, the film's underlying theme is never lost with the constant intercutting of its non-action plot-driven dialogue on not just how to understand and defeat the Matrix, but broader more fundamental questions with regard to human trust and human control. In fact, the film repeatedly dangles these questions just out of reach of the protagonists, much to their bewilderment and consternation.

As Neo, the young naïve yet gifted one with seemingly limitless physical control, Keanu Reeves is once again well within his limited acting range. He is balanced beautifully by Carrie Ann Moss, whose Trinity provides the spark in their relationship and Laurence Fishburne, who as the faithful Morpheus summons his considerable talents to play a role which in lesser hands would fall into the abyss. Rounding out the cast are myriad of colorful performances, notably Harold Perrineu as Link, Hugo Weaving as agent Smith, Gloria Foster as the Oracle, and French actor Lambert Wilson as Merovingian.

The Matrix Reloaded is not for those who require deeper meaning to be told in strictly conventional ways. It is futuristic sci-fi fantasy in its highest form, problematic, probing, and highly entertaining to watch.

Highly entertaining futuristic sci-fi sequel, 28 May 2003
9/10

In an age of high tech special effects laden sequels, sagas and trilogies, the movie- goer's payoff most often comes almost exclusively from a film's visual extravagances and ingenuities rather than any discernable 'new' storylines, or insights. Most stories have already been told and retold and in this respect the Matrix Reloaded, in its basic plotline, is no exception. The idea of machines taking over humanity has been explored intensely in films throughout the last thirty years (i.e. Colossus: The Forbidden Project, Terminator, Terminator 2, Virtuosity, and Artificial Intelligence to name just a few).

However The Matrix Reloaded, sequel to the original blockbuster hit The Matrix, transcends the trap of most high tech futuristic films and sequels with its powerful combination of suspense, martial arts action, special effects, philosophical leanings and yes, a few new plot-twists. The small group of humans, Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), Trinity (Carrie Anne Moss) and now Neo (Keanu Reeves) who penetrated the Matrix and freed themselves of its eerie and often confusing control, have now managed to free thousands of people and are preparing for yet another much larger and potentially cataclysmic confrontation. While much of the film's focus is on the visual artistry of fast action martial arts showdown sequences between these rebels and the agents of the Matrix, the film's underlying theme is never lost with the constant intercutting of its non-action plot-driven dialogue on not just how to understand and defeat the Matrix, but broader more fundamental questions with regard to human trust and human control. In fact, the film repeatedly dangles these questions just out of reach of the protagonists, much to their bewilderment and consternation.

As Neo, the young naïve yet gifted one with seemingly limitless physical control, Keanu Reeves is once again well within his limited acting range. He is balanced beautifully by Carrie Ann Moss, whose Trinity provides the spark in their relationship and Laurence Fishburne, who as the faithful Morpheus summons his considerable talents to play a role which in lesser hands would fall into the abyss. Rounding out the cast are myriad of colorful performances, notably Harold Perrineu as Link, Hugo Weaving as agent Smith, Gloria Foster as the Oracle, and French actor Lambert Wilson as Merovingian.

The Matrix Reloaded is not for those who require deeper meaning to be told in strictly conventional ways. It is futuristic sci-fi fantasy in its highest form, problematic, probing, and highly entertaining to watch.

Masterful rendition of Tolkien's vision, 15 April 2003
10/10

In 1994, when Houghton Mifflin Company published a single copy of The Lord of The Rings, Douglas A. Anderson wrote a 'revised note to the text' making it clear that J. R. R. Tolkien's famous epic novel was `often erroneously called a trilogy, when it is in fact a single novel, consisting of six books plus appendices, sometimes published in three volumes'. The three volumes Anderson referred to, The Fellowship of The Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of The King, were initially developed by the original publishers for purposes of cutting down on the cost of printing (David Colbert, The Magical Worlds of The Lord of The Rings). According to Colbert it was the publishers who first came up with the title The Two Towers for the second volume. Given his fascination with and penchant for referring to dozens of important towers within the novel, Tolkien himself wasn't sure which two towers were in fact denoted by the title and was therefore initially unconvinced by the title itself. However Tolkien eventually conceded and thus the myth of the trilogy of The Lord of The Rings was born.

All of this background is not for wont when reviewing Peter Jackson's film version of The Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers. In spite of following the traditional lead of breaking the story up into three films, he has essentially remained faithful to the text, as faithful as any movie director can be expected to when trying to adapt such an epic to the big screen, by maintaining a continuous uninterrupted flow from the first film to the second. The Two Towers immediately picks up right where the Fellowship of The Ring leaves off and we are again treated to a movie masterpiece so entrancing and perfectly paced. The Two Towers is filled with rich three-dimensional characters and plotlines, beautiful performances, and numerous battle scenes amidst breathtaking landscapes. Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Sam (Sean Astin) continue in their quest to bring the one ring to Mordor and destroy it in the very fires from which it was forged while the rest of the fellowship is split up into several factions in an effort to find their lost friends and take up the fight against the armies of the Dark Lord Sauron and the traitorous Saruman. New characters are introduced, notably the Ents, Grima Wormtongue, King Theodon and the creature Gollum.

The film is undoubtedly mythical, just as Tolkien had intended, but it also more than adequately explores many of the difficult problems and questions Tolkien had examined during his lifetime; the inevitable encroachment of industrialization, and its impact on modern human society; the quest by some for unfettered power over all races; the onslaught of war in order to both provoke and quell that quest; the longing by others for peace and pastoral tranquility; and the endless forging and breaking up of alliances between the different races to achieve or defeat these varying quests. In many ways Gollum's character is a microcosm of these competing interests, providing much of the film's most vivid and provocative moments and leaving the audience with much to ponder.

It is perhaps to their considerable credit and understanding of today's moviegoers that Jackson and his collaborators did not make one nine hour film but don't be surprised when the movie ends and the credits roll if instead you don't find yourself wishing they had.

Neither true thriller nor credible comedy, but boasts an entertaining story, 15 April 2003
7/10

Steven Spielberg's latest film is the true story of the prodigious teenage con artist Frank Abagnale Jr. (Leonardo Di Caprio) who manages during the late 1960's to forge over two million dollars in checks throughout several different countries while posing as an airline pilot, a pediatrician, an attorney, and a college professor. All the while, he is being pursued by FBI agent Carl Hanratty (Tom Hanks), whose dedication to catching Abagnale borders on obsessive.

While the main focus of the film is on Abagnale's genius for defrauding the government, deceiving just about anyone with whom he comes into contact, and the ensuing cat and mouse game with the FBI, it also allows us a glimpse into the underlying roots of his deception. His father Frank Abagnale Sr., portrayed with great depth and sincerity by Christopher Walken, has a penchant for deceit himself but when his business and marriage fall apart it ignites his son's strong yearning to restore the life and family they once had and ultimately his ambitious yet perilous journey into high stakes fraud.

There are times when the plot seems repetitious and predictable, and therefore robs this film of becoming a first rate thrill ride. But strong performances, a fascinating storyline with both comical and sad undertones, and a fulfilling ending make Catch Me If You Can worth the trip to the cinema.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
A Rare Treat, 15 April 2003
10/10

A story within a story, Adaptation is a rare treat inside screenwriter Charlie Kaufman's talented yet tormented mind as he attempts to carve out a screenplay from Susan Orlean's publication The Orchid Thief. Her book, while an intriguing true account of botanical expert John Laroche who collaborates with Seminole Indians in Florida to exploit rare ghost orchids, apparently doesn't have enough of a storyline to translate to the big screen. Kaufman and Director Spike Jonze take us through Charlie's own mental gymnastics by offsetting his character with a fictional twin brother Donald, who is a less talented but more outgoing and pragmatic screenwriter, and by brilliantly interweaving pieces from Orlean's original story.

Nicholas Cage gives one of his finest and most convincing performances as twin brothers Charlie and Donald. He descends deeply into their minds and souls in order to capture the fine yet distinct differences in their approaches both to screenwriting and to life. Cage is more than aptly supported by Meryl Streep, who as Susan Orlean transitions brilliantly from understated writer to an equally tormented soul of Kaufman's imagination and by Chris Cooper, who as John Laroche gives us a healthy dose of someone unwavering and a bit unsavory in his motivations. The juxtaposition of these characters is what drives Kaufman to the brink of insanity and ultimately this film to its lofty heights.

The Hours (2002)
58 out of 79 people found the following review useful:
Provocative and Hopeful, 15 April 2003
9/10

Boasting an exemplary cast, purposeful direction, authentic production values, and a haunting musical score, The Hours is a sincere praiseworthy attempt to adapt Michael Cunningham's prize-winning novel to the screen. It is provocative, introspective, hopeful, and at times downright desolate. As evidenced by the opening sequence, the value of life itself is called into question and it sets the tone for the rest of the film.

The complex storyline focuses on one day in the lives of three women from three different generations. Virginia Woolf (Nicole Kidman) is living outside of London with her husband in 1923, recovering from mental illness and beginning work on her now famous novel, Mrs. Dalloway. Laura Brown (Julianne Moore) is a 1950's suburban housewife, married to a World War II veteran (John C. Reilly), raising a small boy while expecting another child. And then there is Clarissa Vaughn (Meryl Streep), a present-day version of Mrs. Dalloway, so named by her one-time lover and now AIDS-stricken writer Richard (Ed Harris), living in New York and planning one of her renowned parties for him following his reception of a prestigious poetry award.

Yet there is a common thread among them that effaces any 'real' normalcy in their lives and ultimately forces each of them to make life-altering decisions. Themes revolving around feminism and sexual preference stir just below the surface. But it is the prevailing sadness of these women brought on by the confinements of a restrictive and often stifling society that is at the core of this film. Their yearning for something more or for that 'one perfect moment' in time places each of them in the painful position to question their own existence. The sequences in each of their lives are carefully interwoven throughout the movie, enhancing their parallel struggles.

The Hours is skillfully directed by Stephen Daldry and contains some of the finest performances of the year. Julianne Moore's depiction of Laura Brown is filled with subtlety and nuance. She epitomizes a 1950's housewife with a constant shiny exterior who can barely contain the internal struggle of her life's claustrophobic confinements. Meryl Streep's Clarissa Vaughn, though bound by memories of her past, is somewhat less restricted in her character as a modern New York editor living with her female lover and therefore has more opportunity to display her considerable emotional range.

However it is Nicole Kidman's portrayal of Virginia Woolf that is the most mesmerizing and transforming performance in the film. She is completely submerged as the famous novelist of the early twentieth century. The hype concerning Kidman's prosthetic proboscis and its alleged distraction is much ado about nothing. To the contrary, it enhances her performance and allows her characterization of Virginia Woolf to fully emerge. Audiences will not recognize her, nor should they.

But if it is familiar players and plotlines you are seeking then The Hours is not for you. It is neither fantasy nor escapism, yet what it lacks in pure entertainment it makes up for with introspection and a somewhat hopeful ending.