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What is this garbage?
This review is based on two things: I am a Star Wars purist, and I hate computer generated action scenes.
From Episode 1 to Episode 4, about 30 years have to pass. In that time, a LOT is supposed to happen to our characters and the political universe. Yet, this film (and the upcoming Episode 3) will leave major gaps in the story.
The plot should have revolved around the internal struggles of Anakin, with his ultimate turn to the dark side, with a background of the Clone Wars. Yet, the entire film revolves around a war ONLY MENTIONED in Episode 4 by 2 lines of dialogue!!! This film should have gone further down the timeline. Episode 3 will need to be about 4 hours long to cover everything.
As far as the acting went, blame it on Hayden Christensen. He couldn't carry Anakin's emotion if it were stapled to his hands. His performance was cardboard. Remember the "grieving scene" after the death of Schmi? Was that supposed to be a serious tear-jerking moment? It failed miserably.
The rest of the cast did a wonderful job. But Mr Christensen was SO bad, he brought the entire grade down.
Something else that bothered me was the poor attempts at humor by Anakin and ObiWan. I cannot imagine Alec Guiness ever saying "Why do I have the feeling you're going to be the end of me?". I don't remember any of the other Jedis (in ANY of the films) trying to be sarcastic. They were stupid lines.
The Direction was OK, considering the downfall in casting and the crappy story-line.
As far as visuals, I am torn. I hate unrealistic computer effects in action scenes, but get a kick out of the sweeping fly-bys of planets (specifically cities). The scene with Anakin riding that creature on Naboo was one of the worst examples of computer use I have ever seen in a film. Even the puppets used for the speeder-bike rides in Episode 6 looked better. These animations just looked like crap.
Anyway, there it is.
Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
The Dumbest Movie I Have EVER Seen
What was the point of this crappy movie? The lead character was a bigger retard than Forrest Gump, and his life was more pitiful. I understand Napoleon had to represent all things nerdy and uncool from High School, but this was nuts. It also seemed as if the story didn't know which year it was supposed to be.
This film is heralded as being "hilarious", but I think passing a kidney stone would have been more entertaining. It's true I laughed, but in only one scene for about 4 seconds. The rest of the film I spent trying to stay awake. I kept hoping one of two things would happen: either the film got better, or it ended. This is one of the most painful 95 minutes I've ever endured for a film. It amazes me how garbage like this could be rated as high as it was.
Uncovered: The War on Iraq (2004)
One-sided view of the Iraq War Policy
This hour-long show featured a number of experts who gave their opinions of the Bush policy regarding Iraq. Between these interview segments were segments of press conferences, testimonies, and speeches by high-level members of the Bush administration.
What I found interesting was the complete one-sidedness of this issue. Nothing was mentioned of the Clinton speeches with the same message, nor of the Democrats who also supported an Iraq War. Senator John Kerry said "the threat of Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction is real" on 23 January 2003. I don't have the time to include more quotes, but I can if requested.
As far as the "experts" go, history has proved some of these guys to be wrong. For example, Peter Zimmerman stated several times that no WMDs were ever found. That's a total lie! On 18 May 2004, a roadside bomb containing Sarin gas exploded in Baghdad. In addition, news outlets reported just last year that "Defense personnel have completed the transfer of 550 metric tons of Iraqi uranium ore to Canada...", which was transferred from Tuwaitha Nuclear Research Center near Baghdad. So, if there were no WMDs, where did they find the YellowCake again? But, this "expert" says there were no WMDs, specifically saying "no Sarin". Simply put, Zimmermann is either a liar or a fool.
The Producer of this film also forgets to mention that the intel was identical to that of: UN Security Council, British MI5, and the Russian Intelligence Agency.
This film was nothing more than 56 minutes of anti-Bush propaganda. It commits the same sins it accuses the Bush Administration of committing: omitting facts. As a result, it comes across as waste of film. But, anti-war people will gobble this garbage up.
Overall Grade: B
I enjoyed this movie, but had two issues. The first is more of a warning or concern. The second is more of a personal film preference.
First of all, there seems to be a trend in films over the past few years to give the PG-13 rating to any big budget film that has a 99% chance of being on the "Must Watch" list of any group of 10-year olds, regardless if it needs it or not. With marketing targeted at pre-pubescent viewers, it can be hard to justify NOT taking your little ones to a highly anticipated film if exposure to it is everywhere. This film, however, can make the exception. For the first time in a long while, the MPAA has gotten it right. This film earns its rating as a lot of the action violence and dialogue are not appropriate for younger audiences. There is a fair amount of swearing, and brief discussion of a sexual nature. I would suggest a young couple review this film prior to taking anyone under the age of 12. Parents are the best judges as to whether or not their children are mature enough for this film.
The only other issue I had with this film is the way it was shot. I cannot stand action scenes that are "intensified" by a shaking camera. Do directors actually believe an unsteady camera makes the action scenes better? In my opinion, scenes "enhanced" this way become too much of a blur to follow what's going on anyway. So why continue doing it? This kind of filming is irritating and headache-inducing. HINT: USE STEADY-SHOT!! Overall, I had a good time with this film. As a fan of the original comics, toys, TV show, and movie from the 1980's, it was fun to get back into that world. This film would have been better if the camera work hadn't given me a migraine.
National Treasure (2004)
Not perfect, but still an excellent adventure.
I agree that this film is not as good as "Raiders Of The Lost Ark", but will ANY film ever dethrone the king of adventure movies? I don't think so. As such, this film is a slight grade lower than the all-time champion. However, it doesn't mean this film is bad. Far from it.
I thought the story was original and quite good. Is it a ridiculous idea for a HUGE treasure to be hidden by some of America's greatest historical figures? You bet. But, that's the concept of treasure-hunting films. The prizes are supposed to be massive, unbelievable amounts of wealth. That's the point of being a "treasure".
What makes this film so much fun, is how they've taken commonly seen US historical items and places, and turned them into pieces to the big puzzle. They don't change history, just tweak it a little to fit their film. It worked for many films in the past ("Titanic", and "Pearl Harbor"), and it works here.
I highly recommend this film, especially to those who like American history. It's a fun movie.
The Aviator (2004)
Nominated for 11 Academy Awards? Did the Academy even WATCH this film?
I rented this film after hearing a lot of praise for it. However, I had high hopes that were never realised. To be blunt, it was painful to watch.
This film is one of the most boring movies I have ever watched. In fact, I stopped it after less than an hour to take a suddenly-desired nap. After resuming, I kept looking at the clock wondering how much longer I was going to have to sit through the film. I have no problem with lengthy films, as long as the story can maintain the attention span. And, a film doesn't have to be action-packed to do that. "Patton" and "Ray" are great examples of long, biographical films that keep the audience interested.
Granted, I did learn a little about Mr Hughes (as most film biographies intend to do). A lot of his personal issues were presented, but nothing came of them. Most of the film built the background for the Senate Committee hearing, but that hearing itself was shown for about 15 minutes and the outcome was not known. What was the point of even bringing it up? As an aside note, I found it funny how the Maine Senator heading the committee looked a bit like Vice President Dick Cheney. Coincidence? Or did Mr Scorsese try to make another Hollywood political statement? I just couldn't wait until this film was over. But, I was surprised at the abrupt ending. One minute you are watching this guy go through another OCD attack, the next you are watching the credits. I thought "What? It's over just like that?" but reminded myself to be grateful my suffering had ended.
This movie sucked.
The Phantom of the Opera (2004)
Great, but with a few too many distractions
I have been looking forward to a film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Phantom" for many years, now. And, I must say I am rather impressed with the turnout.
However, there were a few things that keep this film from being perfect. For example, the several transitions between the "real time" and the flashbacks seemed to slow the film down too much. The opening sequence (necessary part of the original stage performance) and the end scene at the gravesite (not in the original) were OK, but the others seemed to unnecessarily break up the flow of the film and detract from the storyline. Most of these transitional scenes were annoying.
As far as the casting goes, it was very good. Emma Rossum was sensational. She was the standout performer of this film. However, I felt that the two lead males were total opposites to each other. Gerald Butler appeared to be forcing his part as the Phantom, trying to "act" the role rather than becoming it. Too bad Michael Crawford wasn't available (and may be too old). He was the ultimate Phantom. By contrast, Patrick Wilson's Raoul was holding back. He never really took a commanding lead as the stage character had, and he seemed stiff in his costumes. Too much starch in his wardrobe? Anyway, his performance seemed more of a supporting role.
Overall, though, I enjoyed it immensely.