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19 reviews in total 
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2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Thrilling and fun, but disjointed plot and characters, 27 December 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Packed with action, suspense and laughs, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey proves to be a thrilling adventure story--however, the plot feels discombobulated at best. Although The Hobbit is a fun adventure story (as compared to the serious quest of the trilogy), the film adaption has a plot that branches out in too many directions. For example, viewers hardly know which villain on which to focus their wrath--there is the white orc, the necromancer, the goblin king, Smaug and, of course, Sauron. Add to that the frequent sidetracks from the main plot (the brown wizard, for example) and the lengthy amount of time spent in the Shire before the band of travelers begins their quest, and viewers' confusion may well be complete. Another criticism is that overall I found that video game-esque action sequences overshadowed character development and acting potential. Thorin is--by far--the most developed of the dwarfs, but he does not draw viewers into the story as a sympathetic character. As portrayed on screen, there is nothing that sets Armitage's character apart from the typical fantasy action hero--a tough cookie and a bit aloof, but skilled with the blade. He comes off as rather one-sided in his stereotypical strong, silent character. In fact, viewers don't really invest in any of the dwarf characters because their development as characters is discarded in favor of jokes and action sequences. Thus, it is hard to care if they win or lose in battle. There is no sense of urgency or stakes being raised during the quest (despite the ever-present fact that The Hobbit is undoubtedly lighter reading material than the trilogy). If the dwarfs fail, then they simply continue to wander the wilderness. End of story.

On the bright side, Freeman is excellent as Bilbo, though I would've liked Freeman to have more screen time in the traveling scenes instead of the dwarfs and goblins. I hope in the future films he will be allowed more opportunities to act. McKellen does a fine job portraying Gandalf and, surprisingly, lightening the mood on many occasions. Serkis is masterful in his portrayal of Gollum. My favorite scene (besides the hungry trolls and the dwarfs' arrival at Bag End) was Riddles in the Dark. Bilbo and Gollum's game of riddles, fraught with tension, is captured skillfully in this scene. I also enjoyed the many allusions to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, though I hope the loose ends created by these hints (especially by the morgul blade and the necromancer) will be addressed in future installments. I am also glad that The Hobbit has its own musical theme, but still I wish not so much of the trilogy music was used (trying to apply the Gondor coronation theme to a dwarf scene threw me for a loop).

Overall, The Hobbit is a thrilling adventure, but do not expect it to have the same cohesion in plot and character development as the trilogy.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Worst movie ever made, 14 August 2012

This is quite possibly the worst movie I have ever seen. The best actors are the dogs, the script sounds worse than a yapping terrier and the plot needs to be scooped up and tossed into a plastic baggie. Although it had a promising start, Dog Lover's Symphony quickly took a turn for the worse. The romance between ex-convict and dog trainer is so hackneyed and the "acting" is so devoid of emotion--of anything, really--that this movie is bound to bore humans and dogs alike. Also, this "family" movie does not have any children in it whatsoever. The story revolves around a lackluster, PG-rated romance between two adults, which has a cheesy, melodramatic ending that merely seals this movie's fate. Do not watch.

Cheesy, didn't do justice to book, 14 August 2012

This movie was good, but could have been a lot better. Although well-acted, I don't think the actors reached their full potential in this film adaption of Jhumpa Lahiri's novel. The pace of the movie was a bit slow, with the train wreck providing the only action. Also, Gogol's love life was treated as filler material, conveniently placed between moments of cultural unease with his family. There was no real sense of longing or searching on Gogol's part. In portraying his love affairs, the film did not do the novel justice--instead of using them as opportunities to convey Gogol's search for cultural identity, the film treats these affairs as soap opera material (cue the electric guitar, he's breaking up with her). I would have liked more emphasis on culture than on Gogol's love life. That aside, this movie is well-acted and there are plenty of touching scenes. Possibly the most emotionally-charged scene is when a young Gogol and his father stand on a cliff overlooking the ocean, talking about the journey they've made "to a place where there's nowhere left to go." The symbolism in these words--describing immigration to America--is compelling. Emotionally-charged scenes like this are what make The Namesake worth the watch.

Iron Jawed Angels (2004) (TV)
5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Cheesy, tedious, by-the-book movie, 14 August 2012

Despite its historical significance, Iron Jawed Angels misses the mark with its cheesy music, tedious romance plot and by-the-book acting. Some of the dramatic sequences--such as the egg yolk scene--make this film worthwhile, but many of the scenes lack the life and vigor that more experienced actors would easily provide. Huston gives by far the best performance, followed by Martindale. Swank was decent for the role of Alice Paul, but in my opinion was miscast. The romance between Paul and a young man is dull and predictable. Likewise, the opening of the film is hideously boring, as Paul and her friend playfully joke about the most frivolous subjects. Probably the worst aspect of this movie was the music, which resembled today's pop music beats and did not fit the time period at all, thus detracting from the authenticity of the film's sets. Although it has moments of good acting and thought-provoking dialogue, Iron Jawed Angels is weakly-constructed in many ways and probably not worth your time.

Gattaca (1997)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Deserves a nod, 14 August 2012

Despite the whiny narration, melodramatic music and romance subplot resembling a Barbie movie, Gattaca deserves a place in the movie cabinet because of its talented acting, suspenseful plot and dark, chilling message about genetic discrimination. Although Hawke's character is the lead, it is Law's character who really shines in this film, adding life and energy to otherwise flat scenes. While the pivotal scenes such as the swimming race are often plagued by sappy, violin-dominated music, they carry the movie and skillfully develop the characters. It may not be your all-time favorite drama, or even sci-fi, but Gattaca is worth a watch because of Law's superb acting, the suspenseful plot and the overarching message that genetic imperfection is no reason to discriminate.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Gritty and moving, 14 August 2012

Gritty and moving, Gran Torino employs dark themes and the talents of seasoned actor/director Clint Eastwood to convey a message of hope, respect and compassion. Despite a slow-paced, character-driven plot with little action, this movie captures viewers' attention with its talented acting, stark simplicity and thought-provoking script. A sprinkling of humor lends the film some variety. The ending is dramatic and profound in its grisly, matter-of-fact sacrifice. What I enjoyed the most were Kowalski's talks with Father Janovich, often providing comic relief, and interactions with his next-door neighbor Sue, who opens his eyes to the bitter old man he's been and inspires him to change. If you enjoy stellar character-driven movies, then Gran Torino is well worth your time.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Bad, bad, bad, 14 August 2012

Despite its success at the box office, A Few Good Men falls flat because of Cruise's weak acting, the melodramatic and overly-mechanized plot and the cliché characters. The film is also plagued with military errors--for example, Cruises's angry rants at Moore and her failure to tell him what's what are not consistent with the fact that she is his superior, and she has presumably worked hard to achieve the rank she now holds. Wouldn't she logically rebuke him when he screams in her face? Another major flaw with the film is the fact that soldiers do not have the duty to obey an unlawful order--so, the defendants should have refused to obey the order in the first place. The fact that they caved in under emotional pressure probably wouldn't be enough to get them off the hook in real life, making the plot of this movie inaccurate. The most painful aspect of this film, besides Cruise's infantile and unprofessional rants, is the scathing villainy of Nicholson's character, who has the blackest of hearts and the coldest of glares. Although it may be a good way to pass the time when you're confined to a hospital bed or locked up in a jail cell, this movie is 138 minutes of guaranteed suffering and should be avoided at all costs.

0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Awful, awful movie, 14 August 2012

Despite the big names attached to this movie, I have to admit it's quite cheesy. Although the historical aspect of the film is impressive--the sets, costumes and supporting characters were well-planned--the story is slow, cliché and hideously boring. The leads drag the story down with their juvenile arguments and resentments, then consequential attraction to one another. The film only worsens once the leads fully realize their attraction and can think of nothing but reuniting, even as Cruise's character rides a mining company train and Kidman's character travels with a band of covered wagons. The worst is saved for last, when Cruise's character is laying on the ground after a fight, appearing to be dead (Kidman is sobbing, for goodness' sake), only to open his eyes and wake up. Cue the cheesy music and the disastrous ending is complete. If you are forced to watch this movie, then appreciate it for the historical aspect--not for the acting, script or plot.

Great acting, 14 August 2012

With stunning directing, acting and historical accuracy, Cinderella Man is a biographical film worth the watch. Although the plot is clearly focused around boxing, what makes Cinderella Man so exceptional is the theme of the Great Depression, which spans the entire film. Supporting characters express different emotions toward the poverty they see every day, and the constant threat of eviction hovers over the Braddock family throughout the film. Watching the determination of the Braddocks to survive, along with the boxing plot, lends this movie the feel of a timeless classic. Whether or not boxing is their favorite sport, viewers will enjoy this movie for its breathtaking directing and acting, beautifully capturing on screen the will of one family to survive one of America's darkest hours.

Emotionally moving, 14 August 2012

Crafted with care and simplicity, Children of Heaven proves that less is more. Using children as its primary emotional reference point and motifs such as shoes and goldfish to convey deeper themes, this movie explores the range of human emotions as portrayed by one Iranian family struggling to economically and emotionally survive. While the need for shoes seems to drive the plot, this symbolizes the larger issue of poverty that the family faces and brilliantly allows the story to be told from the perspective of a child. The gravity of the themes discussed in this film are represented with style and simplicity--a girl envies another girl's shoes, a brother and sister use the same pair of shoes for school, a boy enters a race for which the second place prize is a pair of sneakers. The motive of basic necessities that drives the movie's plot evokes emotionally-charged performances from all of the actors, especially the children. Consequentially, Children of Heaven ranks among the most emotionally-moving films I have ever seen.

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