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The Descent (2005)
Could have been brilliant
When I saw the trailer for this movie, I thought it looked like the most terrifying movie I would ever see...but I also thought that it would be more of a psychological thriller than it was. I know that I am selective when it comes to horror films. I'm not into pure blood and gore, and I don't like zombie movies. This movie has elements of both which I find disappointing. The movie has a premise which is terrifying in and of itself--a group of friends trapped in a cave. Why bother with the creatures? The most frightening parts of the movie occurred in the first half, with the single most terrifying being the scene in which one woman gets stuck crawling through the tunnel. I had to remind myself to breathe during that scene. After the intense claustrophobia scene, the standard gory creature-flick feel of the rest is a letdown.
I will give credit where credit is due, however, and this is why I have decided to bump the rating up to a 7. The characters of the movie are more well-developed than I am used to seeing in most American-made horror flicks. The subplots are subtle; no wasted time or energy, nor insults to the audience's intelligence with overly-dramatic scenes that pose as character development. The evolution of the character of "Sarah" is intriguing, and the end of the movie was both shocking and intelligent (for all my "fellow American" fans, I am referring to the original director's cut, not the American release).
I am sure that many horror fans will enjoy this movie immensely. I, however, was hoping for something more. It could have been the scariest movie I'd ever seen if the creatures had just been left out.
Let's pretend it didn't happen
We could almost unanimously agree that Terminator 2: Judgment Day is one of the best action movies ever made. Having established that, I understand that Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines had a high standard to live up to, so it should have been no surprise if it didn't quite reach the level of its predecessor. I've watched T3 twice now, which tells you that it's not entirely the disappointment that sequels often turn out to be. The action sequences definitely rival those of the other movies in the series, and in fact surpass those of many other action flicks, which is made possible by the fact that the characters in the high-speed chase with multiple crashes and explosions are not human and thus can survive any crash. Kristanna Loken is HOT as the Terminatrix. The movie dishes out the characteristic ironies of time travel and glimpses into the future, although none quite as powerful as the revelation in T2 that the Terminator crushed by Sarah Connor in Part 1 became the prototype for the machines that would eventually terrorize humans. It is interesting to see John Connor grown up, living with the paranoia that comes from his experience with the Terminator, and his feelings about his destiny as the leader of the human race. He is not quite the adult John that I pictured after seeing the trash-talking, street-savvy teenager in T2, but I can accept that people may change, especially after a traumatic experience of nearly being killed by a machine. The movie does not forget the more memorable moments of those which came before it, including a variation of "Come with me if you want to live," and the recurring character of Dr. Silberman, although Arnie's delivery of "I'm back" makes me cringe and think that sticking with the good ol' "I'll be back" might have been less cheesy.
All in all, it is a good, though not great, movie as long as the viewer remembers that sequels rarely live up to the ones before it, and yet...this film leaves me with a disturbing, unsettling feeling that it should never have happened. It feels like an afterthought, which we all know it wasone last blockbuster in a fading acting career, one last attempt to make some money on the phenomenal franchise. More than that knowledge of Hollywood, however, I feel troubled as a fan of the first two movies and of Sarah Connor. While I understand that Sarah is only a fictional character, this movie seems an insult to her memory. The fact that the Terminators still exist, are still trying to kill her son and take over the world, makes Sarah seem that much more tragic. After watching her nightmares in T2 which portrayed nuclear explosions with horrifying realism, and cheering her on while she overcame the impossible, I cannot stomach the thought that the machines still come into existence and try to take over. It makes me glad that "Sarah Connor" did not live to see this film.
In summary...it's a decent movie and worth a couple viewings, but when you go back and watch T2 again, just pretend that T3 never happened.
King Arthur (2004)
A pure action flick, with no real intrigue
I was amused from the beginning by this film's claim to be the "true story" behind the legend, since there is little to no evidence that Arthur was a true historical figure at all; nonetheless, since I enjoy medieval legend (as well as Keira Knightley), I went to see the movie. It's been a long time since I was this bored in the theater.
The film's creators wanted to take away the myth and present King Arthur as a real human character, and they present a possible story of his ascension to the throne. There's just one problem when you take away the Lady of the Lake, Morgan Le Fey, Merlin the Magician, and the Holy Grail: you take away everything that makes it an "Arthur" story, and you're left with a bland "haven't-I-seen-this-before?" action flick. At various times throughout the film, I was reminded of "Gladiator," "Braveheart," "Lord of the Rings," and even "Saving Private Ryan," but there was nothing to make this an Arthur story except the characters' names. They could have been any small army in any ancient land.
Furthermore (and even worse), I never figured out what the point of this movie was. Arthur and his knights go from one place to another, fight a few times, and eventually Arthur becomes king (which you already knew would happen, so I'm not spoiling anything). But there is no intrigue, nothing to make me care about these characters or what they're fighting for. In fact, they don't even know what they're fighting for, or if they do, they don't communicate it very well to the audience.
I would say, don't waste your time with this movie unless you want your mind numbed for a couple hours. It has no coherent plot, no interesting character development, unimpressive battle scenes, and almost no resemblance to any Arthur story ever told. The one good thing I can say about it is that the lead actors are very good in their roles; they just didn't have much of a script to work with.