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So my all-time favourite movie is an unbreakable tie between Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Miyazaki's Spirited Away. Ive given the Indy trilogy all tens (Temple of Doom would get a nine but gets a bonus point just being Indy) and while Spirited Away is the only Miyazaki film Ive scored that high, i Have awarded nines and eights to others.
Of the original Star Wars Trilogy, The Empire Strikes Back is the one to get a ten from me. Only Fellowship of the Rings gets a ten from the LOTR Trilogy from me because it's the one that had the least changes from the book and it's also my favourite book of the series. Also, while judging from its overall score on this site, this movie doesn't really get too many really high marks, Jurassic Park actually does get a ten from me.
The most recent ten ive given is to Batman Begins and that is high praise indeed as Ive only given maybe thirteen or so movies a ten.
I won't go on and on about the movies I hate but I will point out that I gave the Godfather a six. Another movie that gets a lot of praise on this site is American Beauty but I actually disliked that enough to give it a three.
I figure one can get some insight on what I'm like by knowing what "popular" movies I dont really care for and what more under the radar films garner my highest praise.
I'll probably change this up every now and then.
X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
Yes, I am a huge Marvel fan and I can be kind of a snob when it comes to these things. But so what? That's who these movies should have been made for anyway. But this trilogy is obviously a cash-grab made for the ignorant masses. What a slap in the face.
My biggest problem with the trilogy is the woeful casting of Magneto. I like Ian MacKellan but he's all wrong for this part.First thing: he is too OLD. As an X-fan, I'm well aware that Magneto's back story is he is a Holocaust survivor and, obviously, would have to be quite old today. However, since this trilogy has been perfectly OK with tossing away virtually every other character's back story, I don't see why keeping Magneto's intact was necessary. Magneto is NOT a feeble, old man.
MacKellan's Magneto is so smug and prissy it's revolting. Observe him in the first scene at Jean's house. Tell me he doesn't seem gay there. I have never seen MacKellan seem gay as other characters. I know that he's capable of playing roles without a hint of it. But he seems to be totally going for it here.
I expected it in the first movie, tolerated it in the second, but by the third, I can't tell you how tired I was of the whole "humanity vs mutants" plot. It's so worn out. And yet,it was once again the driving force behind this movie. Heaven forbid they maybe push that to the background for a movie and focus on the X Men dealing with an actually interesting threat, like Apocalypse or Sinister. No, the filmmakers saw fit to once again smash us over the head with the old sticking point that most people just can't STAND them darned mutants. What a waste.
They decided to include the Phoenix storyline and condensed it into a SUBPLOT. Wouldn't an entire movie about the whole Phoenix thing, where Jean Grey apparently sacrifices herself to save the team only to return possessed by an immensely powerful cosmic entity that, in adjusting to human emotions, becomes extremely dangerous and unpredictable be great? Guess not. Seems it'd be cooler to make the Phoenix a suppressed wacko personality of Jean's that's extremely powerful for no reason. Yeah,I can see how that's better.
Despite his being the leader of the X Men, Cyclops has been completely underused in this series. With the Phoenix thing (as watered down as it's become) present in X3, here's a chance to really do some stuff with Scott. Instead he's shown whining and crying, then he's killed off-screen. I can't believe a movie about the X Men would have Scott Summers dying like he's some worthless throwaway character. But there it is.
Beast and kitty were good.
Jackman does a better job of Wolverine than any other other actor who I can think of probably could. But he's written all wrong throughout all three movies. His dialog is never close to what it should be. Wolverine is known for typically using such words as "ain't", "flamin" and "darlin'" but here, he talks just like everyone else.
I have no problems with Iceman. My problem is with the completely fabricated Iceman/Pyro rivalry. Let's make Pyro an angst y kid who was formerly at Xavier's and develops a rivalry with Bobby!
Colossus is a great character, isn't he? Well,you wouldn't know by watching this movie. The gentle, soft-spoken artist from Russia has been replaced with a one-dimensional American strongman.
Perhaps no character (besides Magneto) is more ruined than Juggernaut. Cain Marko - Xavier's unstable half-brother who has an insane grudge against him, powered by the magical Gem of Cytorak (NOT a mutant), a nearly unstoppable force that used to take on the X Men completely on his own (he could be a movie on his own), reduced to a big, British (?!?!?) oaf who IS a mutant, and not even that formidable. Costume was dreadful. If you're going to put Juggernaut in a movie and ruin him all those other ways, at least make him look right.
Jamie Madrox was thrown in as a gimmick. Rogue's barely there and then they make her a "poor-me" wuss at the end. Halle Berry continues to play her extremely angry version of Storm.
A puzzler: Arclight. I know - "WHO?!?" She was a Marauder. Her biggest moment came during the Mutant Massacre (look it up). I have NO idea why such an obscure character was tossed into this movie and then actually portrayed accurately. They got her outfit, unique HAIRSTYLE and powers right. And I have no idea why. Ruin Colossus, rape Juggernaut, utterly DESTROY Magneto, but, for god's sake, let's make sure Arclight is well-done -the fans will riot otherwise!
The super fast girl who can also detect powers for some reason is listed as Callisto in the credits. That's not Callisto. So with dozens of cool characters to choose from, the filmmakers MAKE UP their own and then say it's someone else. Why?!?!
Angel: he might as well have not been in the movie.
What's left is a movie with all the same flaws as its predecessors, a rehashed plot, forgettable throw-ins, and the utter devastation of lots of beloved characters. Attempting action and drama, they kill off characters and De-power them and it all ends in a completely stupid climax (why not just march Leech up to Jean while she's tearing sh*t up and have him cancel out her powers instead of making Logan run her through?)
The bit after the credits hints at an X4. I guess in a few years we'll find out what else they can ruin about one of the most popular and beloved Comic series' ever.
Batman & Robin (1997)
so wrong it makes Adam West look like the true Dark Knight
So this is Batman. No. This is NOT Batman. This is some horribly twisted, disgusting display that CALLS itself Batman. I don't even know where to begin, I'm so overwhelmed by its degree of suckitude. But I have to try.
OK, let's start with the man himself, Batman. Played by George Clooney. Clooney smirks his way through this movie without ever once appearing even slightly dark, menacing, tortured or cool. He seems to be simply playing the Bruce Wayne front that the REAL Batman puts up for the public. Only all the time. At Wayne Manor. In the Batcave. While fighting criminals. All the time. Clooney can't help but deliver a suave, smug rich guy who thinks he's better than everyone. Instead of the brooding, guilt-ridden defender of Gotham, we get a pretty-boy in a cape, spouting ridiculous dialog at every turn. If this whole movie wasn't such a dismal mess, other characters would simply laugh their asses off at Batman, as he's about as dangerous and edgy as a door to door salesman. However, this movie's one success is that it's consistently bad at every possible level. So Clooney's laughable Batman fits right in.
Such a depiction of Batman would be totally incompatible with the Gotham City that fans of the comics would be familiar with. Batman's world is supposed to be dark, gritty and disturbing. It's a decayed city where many of the villains are mentally twisted and even heroes like Batman are tinged with darkness. It's a style that's much like a '30s film noir, where a noble hero must struggle against an environment that is wholly oppressive. This style is completely abandoned by Schumacher who decided to replace it with glitz, glam and extreme air boarding. This first began in Batman Forever where Dick Grayson fights a gang covered in neon paint and use glow sticks for weapons. In Batman and Robin, this is taken to the next level where the entire city is painted in a homo-rainbow of disco colors. Despite their gaudy outfits, when villains like Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy show up, they fit right in with their surroundings. Batman cartoonishly taking out a "Batman credit card" and pheromone dust visibly flowing into his nose go along with Schumacher's "Sunset Strip" version of Gotham City. In this lack of seriousness, and its constant underestimation of the audience, it's like the '60s Batman show, only with a budget.
When it comes to the character of Mr. Freeze, any fan of the comic book or the animated series would know that he is a calculating, emotionless villain whose technology makes up for his lack of physical power. Brains over brawn, right? Well, who better to play this character than muscle-bound action star Arnold Schwarzenegger? That makes as much sense as casting Stallone as The Scarecrow. So Mr. Freeze stomps around in his mechasuit of doom and spewing the most painful ice-related puns, his villainy culminating to the grand "let's freeze the city" plan, we realize the movie has obviously been balanced with a second villain. Well, what would thrive in this winter wonderland? Plants? Of course. So Poison Ivy jumps on board this Bob Kane wreck-fest. While Uma Thurman is obviously a pretty woman, she doesn't have the correct full bodied voluptuous look that the seductress Poison Ivy should. Instead we get a lanky broad in a rejected Green Giant outfit throwing around her lust dust and getting Batman and Robin in ridiculous Springer-esquire feuds. But while Poison Ivy and her two-ton ice tank of a partner get everything about their characters wrong, it's hardly as blasphemous as a certain henchman...
Which brings us to Bane. A minor character in Batman and Robin. Which, I suppose, is a good thing. I shudder to think what they would have done with him were he to be the main villain. With that said, reducing a character such as Bane to the position which he filled in this movie is more than just stupid; it's downright insulting to those of us who know what Bane is really like - a malevolent, calculating and cunning villain who's downright scary for reasons beyond his physical stature and strength. Remember, Bane beat Batman. Granted, he held many advantages over his foe, running him ragged before finally taking him down in an exhausted state. But lots of villains have held advantages over Batman only to get their butts royally kicked. Bane could have killed Batman, but chose instead to "break" him - making one hell of a statement and in the process opening the door for Jean-Paul Valley to take over the mantle of the Bat for awhile. Until Batman had to take him down as well.
Anyway, in this train wreck of a movie, Bane is simply a stomping, drooling drone that serves as an interior decorator for Poison Ivy. The only words he says are monosyllabic repetitions of what other characters have said in his presence. He starts out as a pathetic, skinny and sniveling worm who is completely transformed by Venom. Which is not how Venom is supposed to work at all. The point is that Bane is formidable and dangerous to begin with; the Venom only made him more so. Batman and Robin never take him seriously because they don't have to. Like everyone else in Batman and Robin. Bane sucks. Hard.
Robin isn't nearly as flawed as Batman in this movie. But considering the script, there's really no way anything in this "film" can be good.
Batgirl? Pointless and barely used anyway. Alicia Silverstone? Makes about as much sense as everything else, I guess. She's Alfred's niece? Whatever.
In order to really fathom just how awful this movie really is, all you have to do is ask yourself this question: Is there any way that it could have been any worse?
Once you realize that you can't come up with a single thing, you will understand.
a letdown in every sense of the word
I've always enjoyed movies about serial killers and have been especially interested in the ones where the killers were original. Saw offers an enticing premise - and fails miserably in its delivery.
My main problem is just that this movie's situations start off as interesting then quickly degenerate into a mash of events that really aren't all that entertaining and finally end with nothing to feel satisfied about. I don't exactly have a problem with the film's "twist ending" so much as how it was executed. The other thing that really bugged me is that so much of the stuff had this really tacked-on feel that made me wonder why the hell I should care about any of it. The best example of this is Danny Glover's character, the obsessed cop who's actions make little sense and ultimately wind up meaning very little.
The coincidences this movie tries to pull off are boring which is even more terrible when you take under consideration just how bad the characters are. The main two guys in the room can be described as follows: the over-dramatic, annoying guy and the whiny annoying guy. The killer might have been an interesting character but he's never really analyzed. The movie's aim is to keep him shrouded in mystery - unfortunately, the mystery continues after the movie is over. It leaves one thinking - wow, that killer sure was sadistic and clever - I wonder who the hell he was?
The twist that the movie's main scenario was just one part of a bigger game is actually sort of cool. It's really too bad the audience has to suffer through a bunch of bland dialogue and predictable scenes to get there.
Saw really did have some things going for it. But the fact is that none of that stuff can really save it in the end, what with all the nauseating crap that surrounds it all. I didn't really think I'd like it once I'd seen it but I had assumed I'd decide that it would have been at least worth seeing. Oh well, can't be right all the time. Avoid.
8 Mile (2002)
wow, this was boring
Firstly, let me just say that I don't have anything against Eminem. I'm not a fan of his, really, but, as far as hip-hop goes, I like him more than most other artists.
The hype for this movie when it first came out, was, of course, ridiculous. Eminem was riding the wave of his popularity so it was clear that a lot of people were excited to see this film. I wonder how they felt after seeing it. I didn't see it in theatres in that I wasn't interested in the slightest and wound up seeing it after it came out on video. A friend of mine who is a HUGE Eminem fan immediately bought it and forced me and another friend to watch it with him. Well, I can sort of understand why people have compared this movie to Rocky, as it tells the story of underdog living in a tough situation and eventually overcoming some sort of adversity, but everything in 8 Mile just seems so over the top while, astonishingly at the same time, bland. I mean, no wonder the audience feels inclined to root for Rabbit - the guy is surrounded on all sides by a bunch of complete pricks. Even the girl he starts to get involved with turns out to be a worthless skank who never even cared about him.
As for how the movie is put together, each scene is a weak ripoff of scenes we've seen in lots of other movies. And the whole vibe is so stagnant - nothing really evolves or changes in this movie - not even Rabbit. Unlike other underdog movies, there's no real sense of improvement on the part of the protagonist - i don't know exactly what it is that gives Rabbit the courage and ability to suddenly start rapping well. At first, he chokes, but then, when the stakes increase, he doesn't. I'm not really sure why. There's no montage of him practicing, really. He just scribbles some words on the bus and spends the rest of his time goofing around with his moron friends and being beaten up.
In the end, he succeeds only on the most mediocre of levels and brings about literally no change in his life. Everything basically remains the same as when the movie started. Perhaps Rabbit has gained some valuable life experience but the whole thing sure was underwhelming. Not to mention tedious.
The rap battles were cool enough, I suppose, but lacked the intensity and drama of something like a boxing match (a movie boxing match like in the Rocky movies anyway) and by the time of the final battle, I can't see how anyone watching could really care anymore. There wasn't really anything about it that separated it from the ones we'd seen before. And nothing particularly significant seemed to be at stake - not even credibility. It was pretty apparent at the movie's "conclusion" that Rabbit still had his share of enemies and doubters, even after his victory. He wasn't suddenly regarded with more respect, his ex girlfriend was still the same whore and his mom the same alcoholic loser. I suppose this all makes the movie more realistic but it also makes it disappointing and dull. Well, it was already pretty dull.
If you really like Eminem, then you'll be happy to see a movie where he's not only the main character, but a character that closely resembles himself in real life. Otherwise, I really can't see the point in watching this crap. The underdog story has been done before and done better. As far as making a movie about the hip-hop world goes, maybe they should give it another go. This time, they could try to refrain from using tired clichés, hateful characters and bland plots and subplots.
Another movie that takes advantage of an individual's popularity at a given time to make you give a damn that turns out only to be a waste of time that will most likely annoy and bore you simultaneously. Go Hollywood.
Field of Dreams (1989)
Uninspired, wishy-washy drivel
This beloved movie has irritated me for years. I'd seen it many years ago, before knowing just how popular it is and didn't really have much of an opinion on it one way or another.
However, within the past year, I've twice viewed it and I now feel compelled to say that the fact that it has such a favourable score on this site, along with dozens of glowing reviews, is absolutely baffling to me.
I have no idea how this movie can appeal to anyone on any level. The fact that it's managed to ensnare its fair share of people who aren't even really into baseball is even more disturbing because I always figured that if you're fiercely devoted to a sport, you can make yourself like any movie that paints it in such a positive and mystical light.
Many reviews on this site state that this movie isn't really about baseball, but is instead about deeper things such as family, regret and what it means to live. I can see how the movie may ATTEMPT to be about these things, but it fails quite miserably.
I should also point out that this movie is based on an extremely poorly written book. If you don't believe me, pick it up and try to force yourself to read the entire thing - it's quite a painful experience. The movie obviously changes some things from the book as all movie adaptations of novels do but it certainly doesn't make things any better. The plot is still a lazily slapped-together mash of events that are either cheesy and bland beyond belief or simply nonsensical (and quite often, both at once!)
I've seen movies in which a character is compelled to do something fairly out of the ordinary and is criticized for it by his peers before (in this case, a mysterious voice give Kinsella extremely vague instructions that he decides he MUST follow) but in those films and stories, the character actually winds up ACCOMPLISHING SOMETHING in the end. Building a baseball field so that the spirits of a bunch of deceased baseball players who played more than enough of the game in their respective lifetimes can come together and play again strikes me as utterly pointless. True, as James Earl Jones' character puts it in the end, "the people will come without knowing why and they'll pay twenty dollars each or more just to see" - the final shot proves that this is what's happening and it does solve the problem of Kinsella going bankrupt. However, the whole reason he's broke is because he built the field on his farmland, thusly destroying his livelihood! That's pretty circular, doncha think? Pointless? What has he really gained in the end? A chance to play catch with his father? I realize how that can be a meaningful thing but I question whether or not that justifies the entire movie.
As far as I can tell, nothing justifies pretty much any of the paranormal crap that goes on in this film. I know there are tons of movies with magic and over the top stuff that rely on the suspension of belief - hell, a lot of my favourite movies are quite fantastical and weird - but all that stuff seems extremely out of place in this movie. There's no explanation for any of the stuff that occurs and everything happens so haphazardly that it comes across as though the author just made it all up as he went along. Example: on his insane quest across the country for Jones' character, the reclusive author (in the book he was J.D. Sallinger - I have no idea why the filmmakers saw fit to change that), Kinsella suddenly, without warning, warps through time to the early seventies where he meets a former baseball player who is now an aged doctor. Kinsella isn't surprised in the least by this, I might add -Costner wanders through the events of the movie with this terrible, spaced-out look but never shows any range of emotion beyond that - and he asks the doctor to accompany him back to Iowa. (which reminds me - "Is this Heaven?" "No, it's Iowa." how can you hear lines like that and not vomit?) The doctor declines. Not to worry, because on the drive back, Kinsella inexplicably encounters another incarnation of the doctor in the present timeline (in which he would be quite dead) as a much younger man, practically a boy, and picks him and takes him back to the farm where he will perform the immeasurably important and earth-shatteringly significant act of playing baseball with a bunch of other dead guys. (and don't tell me he saves the girl's life - he wacks her on the back!)
I could go on and on, taking this movie down scene by scene but I won't bother. I will, however, point out that the filmmakers did a remarkable job of representing Kinsella's wife as she is portrayed in the book - that is, an insepid halfwit who stands by her husband's lunatic actions and is more effective as background colour in scenes than as a character. The added scene depicting the PTA meeting must be the filmmakers' attempt to somewhat animate her character but, as it has pretty much nothing to do with the rest of the plot, it just comes across as annoying. I realize that in that scene they mention the reclusive author but that only works since the author's identity was changed from that in the book in the first place.
I applaud anyone who is passionately involved with a sport on some level - it's a great feeling and I think that sports can mean a lot more than just a bunch of guys playing a meaningless "game". That said, I feel anyone who's really into baseball should be angry that this movie exists. If anyone made a movie this bad about a sport I love, I'd be beyond horrified.
Of course, everyone is entitled to their opinion and I know there are scores of you who will disagree with me. But I'm yet to read a review on this site at least, where anyone comes even close to describing the merits of this movie. I hate to say it, but a lot of people come across as though they've simply been brainwashed either by an obsessive love for baseball (which probably isn't a bad thing on its own) or by the fact that the movie tries very hard to be emotionally compelling or perhaps a mixture of both.
As far as sappy movies go, this isn't the worst, but the fact that it's sappy as hell with a whole bunch of meaningless, paranormal garbage thrown in definitely makes it the most annoying. Anyone who says that they were "moved" by this movie would probably go nuts over the book, what with all the horrible clichés, awful dialogue and bland, uninspired imagery that couldn't be crammed into the movie.
Avoid at all costs unless the thought of ghost baseball players coming to life to stand around, scratch themselves and spit all over again makes you tear up. This movie's popularity will forever shake my faith in humankind.
in defense of Troy
I caught Troy in theatres, heading in with lowered expectations. The sense I'd gotten from reviews on the Internet I'd read was that this was a mediocre attempt at something potentially great. I bought that. And before I go into anything, let me just state here that I wasn't enthralled by Troy or anything like that, but I did like it and question those who chose to bash it so much.
I really don't understand those people that want to attack its "historical accuracy". Everyone should know that this is not about something that actually happened. It is a work of fiction. I wonder if people simply assume a movie is based on true events if it's set a long,long time ago (like hundreds or thousands of years). Troy wasn't even a real place. It may have been loosely based on some real places but the fact remains that it was made up. Anyway, I'm not going to get into all that. I'm just surprised that so many people seem to not have a clue about The Illiad.
I thought the movie was well-filmed and that even the stuff that wasn't battles was entertaining enough to sit through. To me personally, the fight scenes were way cooler than those in Gladiator (I feel it's fair to compare the fight scenes in these two movies as they're based on similar kinds of combat and the movies were only made a few years apart from each other).
People shouldn't attack how one-dimensional any of the characters were since this is based on a thousands-year-old epic full of one-dimensional characters. The film-makers actually tried to give Achilles some depth by making him all angsty and questioning fighting. In the poem, Achilles was a hero cause he was great at killing and he never questioned anything - end of story.
My main problem with the movie is the omission of the stuff that would probably have everyone (well, not everyone obviously) complaining were it included and that's the mythological elements of the story. They were completely cut out. Of course, the characters go on and on about their gods but we're quickly shown that there are no gods as everything that happens in the movie has a logical explanation behind it. They even ruined Achilles' death this way - they showed him get the arrow in the heel but then made a point of having two more arrows strike him in the CHEST to bring him down. These two arrows get pulled out before he dies and he is found with the single arrow through his heel suggesting that this is why people said his heel was his only weak point. I find it odd to remove mythological elements from a story that's fictional anyway. Now stay with me on this point before you think I'm saying something completely different. I'm going to use the word "pretend" here so people don't freak out: let's Pretend that the whole story of Jesus Christ is just a fictional story like Troy. Now let's say that the movie The Last Temptation of Christ is made about this fictional story. Only for some reason, the film makers see fit to come up with rational explanations for events that happened in the story that were supposed to be miracles or the work of God. Like, I don't know, having Jesus have a bunch of wine hidden at that party so that people were only lead to believe that he'd turned water into wine. Why do that? After all, aren't the supernatural events what make the story interesting and worth telling? The characters talk about Achilles being the son of a god and that's why he's so great but the movie makes it clear he's not. If he'd been invulnerable to all injuries except for his heel (like he is in the actual story) then it would have been clear that he was the son of a god but the film makers made sure that we knew he wasn't. That there were no gods. I just don't understand that. It's true that even with the supernatural elements removed, there is still an interesting story there but I just don't see the need to leave them out. If people were afraid that today's audiences wouldn't buy the gods doing stuff, then why would they buy a huge war being waged because of one woman? And I hope we don't live in that world anyway. It's a movie about something fictional, it's not real, so you don't have to buy into anything anyway. Just watch it. Or don't.
It just would have been cool to see the more mythological aspects kept in. I don't even really disagree with the changing of other things like the decision to make Agamemnon a total jerk (ditto Menalaus) and have him get killed (ditto Menelaus).
Anyway, I wound up liking Troy may more than I thought I was going to and I'm so far baffled by most people's complaints about it (I've read reviews on here in which people stated that characters didn't get scarred or dirty - are these people blind? what movie were they watching?) but that's not to say that it's a fantastic movie or anything. I've named my criticisms and they make sense. It's fine with me if you hate the movie but don't hate it for "historical inaccuracy" - that makes no sense. Don't hate it for things like "the war is senseless" or "Achilles is one-dimensional" - those are part of the original story and sort of the point - if you don't like that stuff, take it up with Homer. People should learn to read. Also, don't get so hung up on the fact that Brad Pitt shows a lot of skin - that has nothing to do with anything.
A breathtaking fantasy throwback in an age of Hollywood trash.
A movie like Spirited Away restores my confidence in the filmmakers of today. Movies like this only come along every once in awhile. Forget that it's absolutely gorgeous looking and has an equally beautiful-sounding soundtrack - what makes this movie special is its story and characters, wrapped in a wonderful presentation.
Chihiro stands out from other child protagonists in movies in that she really grows as a character throughout the film, going from a listless girl who lacks confidence and believes that there is little she can do to make her life better to a brave, compassionate person ready to meet new challenges. I'll admit that it sure was one weird way to learn about one's self and grow but that's part of the movie's charm. The world Chihiro becomes trapped in is fascinating. It's whimsical and fantastic but it can also be kind of scary and grave at times too. Despite its rather heavy and serious themes, Spirited Away never gets too bogged down as there's lot of humour to be found. It's not a comedy by any stretch and it doesn't contain what I would call jokes, but I found myself laughing at the sheer quirkiness of some of its characters and moments. Few films have ever shown such imagination without being baffling, artsy or simply too "out there" to be enjoyable. I don't see how anyone could have trouble grasping any of this movie's concepts. True, its presentation is quite different but the themes are universal. Anyone using the fact that this is a Japanese film as an excuse to say they didn't understand it would probably have trouble understanding lots of North American movies as well. My guess is that these people simply haven't seen a whole lot of movies outside of the usual crap Hollywood churns out these days. I'd recommend this movie to anyone of any age. It's got a lot of heart but I don't think it ever gets sappy. It comes close sometimes but something seems to balance it all out. For me, watching this movie gave me this uplifting feeling that one might get from a coming of age movie like Stand by Me or even something Like The Shawshank Redemption. What I mean is, like those 2 movies, it's a feel-good movie but that's not all there is to it. A true work of art.