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The Anarchist Cookbook (2002)
Not worth the admission price to watch, or even the bandwidth to download.
What can I say about The Anarchist's Cookbook? As other reviewers of this movie have noted, it is like a cross between Fight Club and SLC Punk. I also felt a familiarity with 25th Hour and this film. The acting was good, and even commendable in a few cases, but the movie in general was a let down.
I did not expect the movie to be based on the book, or even to have any references to it. I have read it myself ten years ago. However, I do not think that the Anarchist's Cookbook was the right title for the film. They should have called it something else, but I am no good at coming up with title names, so I will spare you my own lame version.
To be honest, I was expecting to see something like Fight Club, but with more indie characteristics. Instead, I got a dry witted impersonation of a few guys at my old high school that did nothing but skip class and smoke pot. It was full of stereotypes and proud arguments but held no meaning for me at all. I feel I could have used the time I spent more wisely doing something more constructive, like maybe relieving myself.
It is a funny movie though, as long as you are keeping in mind that this is only the director's second film and everyone has to start somewhere. Not everyone explodes in some prodigal genius; some have to learn the mistakes the hard way. I may recommend this movie to other indie lovers I know, but I would not watch it again. Rating: 4/10
Wrong Turn (2003)
A mediocre movie.
What do you get if cross The Blair Witch Project with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre? Well, you get Wrong Turn of course. I tried hard to find something about the movie that I enjoyed, but found the well nearly dry. It is a simple movie, having a simple 70's horror flick plot. They came, they were slaughtered, and two made it out alive to tell the tale. If you are looking for a no-nonsense teen death flick reminiscent of Friday the 13th, then this is the right movie for you.
Sadly, I require more from a movie, no matter how one lane the plot is. The acting was on par for this type of movie, with an adequate performance by lead stars Harrington (Chris) and Dushku (Jessie). I did not expect much from them, taking in the concept of the film, but they performed well. The issue I had a problem with was character depth, especially in the case of Jessie.
Dushku plays the part well, but seems to be just reprising the role of Faith from the popular TV Series `Buffy: The Vampire Series' and its successful spin off `Angel.' She is crass, takes no bull, and is every bit the athlete. That is all we seem to know about her though. This disappoints me, because I expect to see a character that is more thought out. Perhaps this is all that there should be to the character, as survival becomes her main goal very early in the film. One thing I have noted through Dushku's film history is that she plays a survivor very well.
One good thing about this movie is that there are no gratuitous sex scenes! This is far from the usual genre. The cast is small too, like most horror flicks, but the women are not portrayed as sex crazed teases like in most horror/teen thriller movies. Another interesting point in reference to sexuality: even though three of the four females in this movie are wearing low cut or top open shirts/halters, Dushku keeps her breast in check. Perhaps this was the actor's personal choice, or a smart move by the director, but Dushku manages to jump, run, drop, roll and all sorts of other maneuvers without showing an inch of cleavage or even a bra strap. Now, this may sound like I'm a pervert, but again I mentioned it only because most movies of this type make their sales based on the amount of skin the leading girl shows.
(SPOILERS BELOW - BEWARE) A couple of points that seemed to sway this movie aside from believability: If I were a lone disfigured inbred psycho living in the woods with two others just like me, I think I would at least try to take advantage of some of the eye-candy that was made available. How else do they reproduce? Oh yeah, inbreeding. Still alone in the woods all that time and all you can think to do is chop her up and eat her? Yeah
Here is another: Where did Jessie learn to shoot a bow? It is not as easy as it looks, believe me. But not only does she save the day by plucking one of the bad guys, but she holds the bow horizontally in the act. It is actually harder to shoot the bow this way. However, this goes back to the whole character development I was mentioning earlier.
Overall, I liked the acting, I liked the plot and I liked the cinematography. Nevertheless, the directing, storyline, and characters pretty much stank. Rating: 5/10
Underworld was sadly overrated.
Underworld. overrated. The movie inspired me as a gamer, filling my head with fantastic scenarios of werewolves vs. vampires. However, this `Romeo & Juliet' simile lacked a well-constructed storyline. The plot was interesting, but it just did not seem to flow with the events in a satisfactorily way.
We begin with a brief introduction narrated by the protagonist, Selene (Beckinsale) a vampire `Death Dealer' charged with the task of hunting werewolves into extinction. The narration explains that this millennia long war between the two species has been raging on unbeknownst to the world of mortals, fueled by loathing and anger. On one particular hunt, she discovers that the werewolves are stalking one human, Mike Corvin (Speedman) in particular, but not to feed on him. Intrigued, she searched deeper and became involved in inner house politics and a personal turmoil between saving Corvin and dishonoring her clan. Later, Corvin is turned into a werewolf, forcing her to reevaluate her priorities between species, house, and heart. Nevertheless, she cannot turn her back on Corvin, because he holds the key to possibly ending the war and bringing about a new age for vampire and werewolf alike.
For some reason, we are expected to view Selene as a `good guy' even though she is still a blood-sucking vampire, although she looks extremely hot, and I am a big fan of eye candy. Beckinsale shares a lofty position with Jolie's Lara Croft and Barrymore's Dylan Sanders in my list of `favorite-brunettes-in-tight-leather.' However, I could not sympathize with her character. I actually rooted for the werewolves throughout the whole movie. We see some good performances by some of them like Michael Sheen, my personal favorite in this movie, and a deliciously dark and intriguing performance by Bill Nighy as Viktor, the clan's reigning vampire awoken from hibernation by Selene. I must say, though, that Shane Brolly was not the right person for this role. Maybe it is the character, or maybe it was just him, either way, the movie was hurt by his performance, or lack thereof.
The movie has several good points, ranging from stunning visual effects and props to having a dark quality to it like so many horror/adventure movies that are gracing our decade. As for bad points, I can reference the lack of storyline development again, but the biggest disappointment comes from the lack of character believability and development. They were either blank and mundane, or inexplicably passionate. Perhaps the prequel that is rumored to have been green lighted by Screen Gems will clear the air on this. I was also unimpressed with the lack of werewolf/vampire combat interaction. Obviously, we see that vampires do not stand a chance against werewolves in toe-to-toe melee, but just when the wolves descend on the bloodsuckers it cuts to another scene. I am sorry, but I am a huge fan of gore, and I would have loved to see a vampire be torn apart in rage.
What I would really like to see though, is a Blade crossover. Imagine the greatest vampire hunter since Van Helsing teaming up with a vampire with a conscience (read: soul), a werewolf, and the provocative monster that this movie has (omitted for non-spoiler). It could be a real topper for the genre. Blade III: The Underworld.
Gods and Generals (2003)
Quite possibly the longest and most boring movie ever.
This is quite possibly the longest and most boring movie ever. Well, maybe it is not the most boring. Civil Action was a bit more boring; IMO, but it at least had William H. Macy. Although the large ensemble of Gods & Generals included veteran actors such as Robert Duvall as Gen. R.E. Lee and Stephen Lang as Gen J. `Stonewall' Jackson, this movie could not climb out of the snore factor no matter how many times they attempted a climax. Perhaps, that is what was missing: A definite climax. The movie seems really to be a biography of Gen. "Stonewall" Jackson, One of the most prominent figures of American History, and his part in the US Civil War. The one recurring theme the movie tries to impose is that the Confederate States Army was not made up of a bunch of hillbilly slave owning scoundrels, but God-fearing southern-gentlemen. The one thing that is done more repetitively in this movie, even more so then scene of "Rebs" shooting at "Unions", is praying, lots and lots of praying. I do not mean the "god-save-my-ass" praying, but the humble bread-braking "by-the-will-of-god" praying. The one scene I particularly enjoyed in this movie was a scene in which "Johnny Reb" and "Billy Yank" put aside there warmongering to share some coffee and tobacco. There stand less then half a meter from each other, quietly, sipping coffee and smoking. It seems to bring a realization that although they would kill each other over their ideals and allegiance, they were still countrymen and civilized. Another scene I liked, but probably should have been cut, was a scene in which Charles S. Dutton (Roc, Mimic, & Gothika) and Stephen Lang are praying outside on a cold December morning. Dutton plays Lang's slave, Jim. Each takes a turn praising god and praying for protection of their loved ones. Jim then adds in his prayer to tell him why god-fearing people keep slaves. Jackson does not seem to realize that Jim was including him in the question. Here we can see the hypocrisy of the south, and that fact is not lost on Jim. Overall, if you like Civil War reenactments, or if you think anyone who lived in Virginia circa 1865 is a bad guy, then you should watch this film. Otherwise avoid it and watch Gettysburg instead, it is slightly more entertaining and brought to you by the same director.