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|39 reviews in total|
I really really really hate Will Ferrell. Usually just the fact that he
is in a movie is enough to turn me off from the film as a whole.
It's a good thing I didn't actually know he was in this when I bought the ticket.
All in all, I was expecting to kill an hour and half with a light-hearted "kid's movie", which would have been fine, but instead I got a well made comedy for all ages.
A good family movie, has multiple levels of humor, simple sight gags for the kids, snappy banter and one-liners for teenagers, and maybe not "sophisticated", but more nuanced jokes for adults; things that a kid would miss. This film uses different characters and their interactions to make that work.
For the very young, the highlight of the film will be the interactions between Megamind (Ferrell) and his sidekick Minion (David Cross) as well as Megamind's frequent mispronunciations of common words; "School" is "Shoool", "Spider" is "Speeee-yder", and "Metro City" is made to rhyme with "attrocity". Teenagers will likely find the awkward humor of Hal/Tighten (Jonah Hill) their own cup of tea, largely as satirical reflection of the modern, (sub)urban teenager's view of the world. And adults are more likely to see the most humor in the way the plot is both an homage and gentle parody of comic book staples like the bad guy always losing, and their seemingly endless supply of elaborate weapons and traps (they come from a surplus store in Romania), as well as the developing love story between the Lois Lane-esque Roxanne Ritchi (Tima Fey) and Megamind, turning the romantic element of many classic superheroes on its head.
The CGI, while not quite Pixar quality is good and crisp. The soundtrack is a fantastic mix of the best of classic rock (Ozzy Osbourne and AC/DC always make a movie better). The jokes fly quickly without becoming obnoxious, and it is one of the really few movies marketed toward kids, but actually equally (if not more so) enjoyable to adults
In that time between summer blockbusters and the full-on Oscar blitz is time for Hollywood to take a breather. Sometimes the audience takes a breather too. And that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Here we meet Becky Fuller, trying to make the jump from local to network news show producer. She is put in charge of an ailing morning program, and when told that it is on its last leg, she takes the novel and bizarre step of forcing well-respected television journalist Mike Pomeroy into the co-host position via a quirk of his contract. and thus they are off toward saving the show... A plot like this doesn't really have much in the way of surprises. What really matters is how well the characters are written and how well the actors play their respective parts. While none of the cast is terrible, standing out are a low-key Jeff Goldblum, playing a cynical network executive. While an over stated, loud performance would have sufficed, Goldblum plays it a pragmatic working guy. He gets in a few good zingers early on though. The other standout is Harrison Ford. While he hasn't had much success in the field, he is actually very good at comedy usually playing the straight man to what is going on around him. Here he plays the gruffly lovable curmudgeon pretty well. A significant part of the the plot is his character's personal growth. On the whole, Morning Glory isn't going to sweep any of the major awards, but it's a gentle way to pass two hours and get a few good laughs in the process.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I must confess to being greatly surprised. I went in expecting to see a lightweight, screwball sports comedy, which would have been just fine. Instead I got one of the best romantic comedies that I have seen in years. The year is 1925, the Twenties are roaring along happily, except in the world of professional football. As the sport was just starting to get its foothold in America as profession, a down on its luck team, lead by George Clooney, talks a well known college player into joining their team, which breaths life into the sport. Not only is this young superstar a great player, but he is a war hero and the public loves him. Enter Lexie, from the Chicago Tribune who suspects that all is not as its cracked up to be and sets out to uncover the truth. Instead, she and Clooney's Dodge fall in love in a whirlwind courtship reminiscent of the fast-paced comedies of yesteryear. Clooney and Zelwegger have a chemistry that is undeniable, and they deliver the fast dialogue without it ever feeling rehearsed. The result is a film that is a sheer delight.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In the recent spate of old franchises being brought out for one more hooah before the stars get too old for another, this is probably the best. Although I enjoyed the newest installments of Die Hard and Rambo, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull delivers everything it promises. First let me tell you that the rumors are true, there are "aliens" in the movie. Some would call that over the top, but since Raiders dealt with the Judeo-Christian God, Temple of Doom dealt with an Indian God, and Last Crusade brought back in the Judeo-Christian God (with a heavier emphasis on Midevel Chistianity), I can't help wondering what the big deal is. The things that make the Indiana Jones series work are present and in full force. Deserving very special recognition is Harrison Ford who shows up in great shape and does many of his own stunts, since his face is clearly visible during some stunts that were probably very dangerous to pull off, my hat is off to his notorious toughness (may I never cross his path in a dark alley). If nothing else, Harrison Ford's age gives a greater credibility to the movie, because Indiana Jones has lived a hard life, and to borrow from own adage, he has a lot of mileage. Ford hits every beat with perfection, whether he is being funny, tough, serious, or romantic. Returning to the franchise is Karen Allen in the role of Marion Ravenwood, Indy's old flame. She does a great job, and looks fantastic. The fact that she seems to get in on the action more in this film than her last appearance adds to her character and makes her the kind of tough woman that we know could tame Indy. Shia LeBouff comes into the fray as Marion's (and Indy's) son, Mutt. He is a good young actor, but sometimes he overplays the 50's Greaser cliché, it's funny, but he absolutely shines when he does his action and drama sequences. The rest of the cast are good, and play their roles as if they were in an old Jungle Jim film from the early-1950's which helps to recreate the feel of the films that Indiana Jones was meant to emulate. The action sequences are great, with CGI kept to a minimum. Although there is some computer effects, one can tell that it is used only when absolutely necessary. On the whole the film pays off really well, and it's actually one of those cases where we can't help but pray for another sequel.
In the 1990's Marvel Comics was in something of a financial strain, and to help themselves out, they would lease the movie and television rights to their characters to whoever had cash on hand right at that moment (because $100 in your pocket is better than $10,000 in pledged money), this resulted in some tough times for the film adventures of the Marvel characters; Captain America and Punisher got direct to video adventures, the Fantastic Four film never saw the light of day, and Nick Fury and Generation X (X-Men spin off) were optioned for series by FOX. Neither one got past the pilot/TV movie stage. That said, of the pre-2000 Marvel film adaptations, Nick Fury is arguably among the best. One can never underestimate the power of the Hoff, and who could care about anything else? The plot, action, and special effects are above average for FOX TV movie, but it's not like they were out to get any Oscars or anything. Once could watch far worse, like Superman Returns.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
After a 20 year absence, Rambo returns to the screen triumphantly, but
this is a film one should seriously not bring the kids to.
The film is set in the current Burmese Civil War, and the atrocities that are actually happening in real life are being translated to the screen as faithfully as is humanly possible. And many reviews have made note of this, even likening the gratuitous violence to porn. This isn't entirely correct, as Stallone himself has said that it was to draw attention to the terrible plight of the people of Burma. And no matter how intense the movie gets, it's even worse in real life.
The film picks up with John Rambo living in Thailand, growing old and trying to forget his past. He spends his days doing odd jobs, fishing, and catching snakes for tourist shows. His nights are haunted by nightmares of his violent past. A group of Christian Missionaries come along, asking for help to get their medical supplies into Burma, Rambo reluctantly agrees, giving them a lift in his boat up river. A group of Burmese soldiers, headed by a sadistic officer, capture and torture the missionaries. Rambo is enlisted to ferry a group of hired mercenaries up river to where the hostages are held. Feeling that he must go too, Rambo essentially takes the lead and through force of will manages to... not win per se, but bring a little shade of humanity to an otherwise inhuman situation.
The film is not like the others in the series, one-liners are virtually non-existent, only a handful of nuggets are included as homage to the earlier entries. Stallone in fact keeps the talk to the minimum, preferring to turn the inner turmoil of his character into a thousand yard stare, that also conveys a feeling of conflict. Although most characters are underdeveloped, we don't need the back story of their lives. We only see them for the few hours that they exist within the film. The acting is good, with each actor bringing the necessary gravitas, and when called for, humanity to their roles. And the action and stunts are mostly done the old fashioned way, with CGI virtually unseen.
Go see it, but don't bring the young, impressionable, or squeamish.
The mid-1990's were an awkward time for Superhero/comic book movies,
outside of the Batman franchise, costumed crime fighters were not
having much success on the big screen. Although several valiant efforts
were made. The Shadow is arguably the best of them.
With a story in 1930's New York, the visuals are breathtaking, the city of the time is magnificently recreated ala Dick Tracy but with a larger palate of colors. While convincingly portraying the feel of the 1930's, it manages to gloss over or omit the actual depression going on at the time without feeling cheesy or revisionist in nature. The film successfully captures the feel of old-time Hollywood, by portraying the characters as if they were played by actors of the time the film is set. Alec Baldwin brings a combination of Clark Gable and Humphrey Bogart to the role, and Penelope Ann Miller is as glamorous as a young Katherine Hepburn.
The script itself is for the most part pretty good. It mixes drama, action, and comedy in good proportions. Each character is developed enough for as long as they are in the film, and that's all that's really necessary. For the title character, the movie combines different elements. Historically there are two main versions of the Shadow, the version of the pulps/comics who wore the trench coat and hat and just blended into the Shadows ala Batman while fighting crime, and the Shadow of the radio show who could actually hypnotize people rendering himself "invisible". Each group has its devoted followers, and the film for the most part effectively combines the two. The music is good and fits the events on screen perfectly.
The only downsides are a few jokes don't really fly, and some characters aren't really necessary. But these are easily overlooked.
All in all, it's a film that one can't get into and enjoy.
It's funny really, about two years ago, when Serenity came out and I was first turned on to Joss Whedon's Firefly universe I thought to myself, "gee, Adam Baldwin would make an excellent older, experienced Superman". I suspect that the movie gods were listening to me. It helps that Baldwin is a serious and experienced character actor who never gives anything less than his all to each character he plays. Among other great casting is an emotionally resonating Anne Heche as Lois Lane and a sinister James Marsters as Lex Luthor. For the first five minutes or so, as a fan of the 1990's animated series, it was a little odd hearing these new voices, but they quickly fell into place and one realizes that this is not going to be your parents Superman cartoons. The first thing to be noticeably different is an edginess that wasn't as common or explicit in previous animated versions, and it even outdoes the live action films in this regard. This is the first time that any Superman project has been rated PG-13, and it wasn't just violence amped up to make slack-jaws happy, this film forgets that it is a cartoon and deals with a fantastic story with a lion's share of adult drama. Just about everybody and their mom's know that Warner tried for several years to get a live action Death of Superman movie made, coming close once or twice, and making a seemingly endless string of missteps along the way before abandoning the project. There are innumerable sources for the back story on the project so I won't go into details, but let me say that for every possible mistake Tim Burton and Jon Peters could have made, this film does it right. For not following the actual comic book story very closely, it gets the look, feel, and characterizations perfect. The animation quality is outstanding, it actually looks better than its predecessors in most regards, though it takes a few minutes to get used to the new looks of many of the central characters. And the music is strong and fitting, though the film misses the traditional blaring triad of Superman projects. All in all, this film is far superior to either Superman Returns or the current run of Smallville, and deserves as high a profile as it can achieve.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Richard Donner Cut of Superman II is a testament to many things: probably the most important is the power that consumers have over the makers of film. For 25 years fans of Superman, film, and Richard Donner have been demanding this film be made, and the studio was able to accommodate. It's a testament to the skill of Richard Donner, and his faith in himself and patience that he was able to return to this film and make it without any bitterness. It a testament to a little bit of movie magic that almost 30 years ago brought together an excellent cast, outstanding writers, and a director with vision to create a masterpiece of modern mythology. The Donner Cut is no standard Director's Cut, with a few added scenes and new special effects, it's an entirely almost new film, yet it fits right in with its sibling films of the old franchise. Every effort was made to make the film look like it was created by the same special effects team of the original film, any new CGI is reasonably well hidden, and rarely showing their modern origins. For a film made entirely out of three decade old film stock, that has been sitting neglected in vaults for years, this film is stunning in it's quality. Up to this point all "extended" versions of Superman II have come from various television edits, and the VHS (and Beta) recordings of these have been washed out and grainy, but this film could have been shot last summer it's in outstanding condition. The sound mix is equally impressive, with very little of the stock's age being shown. The acting is outstanding, Christopher Reeve has always given excellent performances, and we are treated to more than an hour of new-to-us acting that is Oscar quality, for a guy wearing tights who can fly, we accept the truth of his being without question. Of particular note here are the infamous scenes shot of Marlon Brando as Jor-El, perhaps more so than the first film, he seems to be more involved and caring for his son, and he portrays it with a heartbreaking pathos. And much more to the point, he gives the oft-quoted "Father becomes the Son" line an actual contextual meaning, so it doesn't sound like melodramatic fluff. All the greatness aside, this film does have it's flaws. The three that will take prominence are the re-use the "turn time backwards ending" from the first film (though it was originally scripted for this film), the sometimes obvious use of doubles for re shot scenes (look for a part where the costume changes for a few seconds), and the use of footage from screen tests to make a certain scene. This last one was arguably a necessity as it was never otherwise filmed, but it's somewhat disconcerting to see Reeve drop 30 pounds for two minutes then bulk up again. I suspect budget reasons prevented this, but given modern digital technology they could have presumably bulked him up digitally to create a greater continuity. Other than these minor nitpicks, it's a film that Superman fans young and old can enjoy for years to come.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
How does one maintain objectivity when writing a review of what can only be called one of the raddest movies ever? Ah, who cares! I'm just going to pour on the praise and hope that the Transformers don't get too swell-headed. When one coughs up close to ten dollars to see a movie these days, they expect something special, and though I figured I'd be disappointed, this was probably the best Summer Action movie I have seen since the original Spider-Man. Sure it was a two and a half hour toy commercial, but that's okay. It didn't pretend to be anything more than it was; a fun movie that had its huge budget spent on action sequences and special effects. The film starts with a little exposition on the origin of the Transformers and the loss of their home world, then cuts to "Present Day", first at a military base in the Middle East, that is attacked by Decepticons who want to know the location of their leader who crashed to Earth. There are barely any survivors of the first attack. Then they try to raid the computers of Air Force One, gaining valuable information. The government thinks that a foreign power is behind the apparent attacks, but a select handful either begin to know, or already know otherwise. Enter Sam Witwicky, great-grandson of the man who discovered the frozen body of Megatron in the Artic decades earlier. Sam makes contact with Bumblebee (now an absolutely sweet Chevy Camaro), and through him develops a relationship with the totally hot Mikaela, who is quite tough in her own right. They make contact with the other Auntobots and learn the importance of Sam's ancestor's discovery, and that the fate of the world hangs in the balance as the Autobots race the Decepticons in search of the All Spark, a cube that is full of life-giving energy. I won't give away the ending, but I didn't think it was possible for a movie like that to create such an adrenaline rush anymore. Sure I loved the series and toys when I was younger, but this film holds up in its own right. In a great nod to the original series, Peter Cullen returns as the voice of Optimus Prime, but sadly, Frank Welker does not return for the voice of Megatron (worry not dear friends, there will definitely be a sequel and this minor wrong could be righted). All in all, for a mid-summer action flick, this movie was perfect. I don't expect it to sweep the Oscars, but I do think that it works for the entire audience; it's action packed, the SFX are stunning, there is a fair share of humor, and parents won't be bored while watching it with their kids.
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