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I'm a big fan of James Cameron, Martin Scorcese, Steven Spielberg, George A. Romero, John Carpenter, David Cronenberg, Christopher Nolan and Zack Snyder.
Terminator Salvation (2009)
Let me start off by saying that Terminator 2: Judgment Day is my all-time favorite film. Because of this, I was very annoyed to hear of another Terminator film being made, let alone by McG. I was all for boycotting the film but then, little by little, things started to look up. First Christian Bale was cast...OK that's great. Then I started seeing things pop up that being a fan of the franchise, made me more interested. Things like the inclusion of Kyle Reese and the only-mentioned T-600 model Terminators. Then the trailer was released and I went from interested to very excited. Swimming Terminators? Cool. Terminator motorcycles? Even better! Badass car chases? Oh hell yes! Then I saw the film itself.
My expectations were met in nearly every regard. The casting was excellent. Christian Bale was superb and very intense and Sam Worthington was great as well. I'm looking forward to seeing Worthington in James Cameron's Avatar. Anton Yelchin was a dead ringer for a young Reese and did a fine job. Everyone else was fine. It was cool to see Michael Ironside in a Terminator film.
The action was spectacular! I love action, especially car chases and I haven't enjoyed a car chase like the one in the film since The Island in 2005. Most of it was live-action too, which only added to my enjoyment. The gunfights and Terminator battles were violent and intense, while the explosions were massive and bone jarring. Needless to say, the action was quite thrilling.
The special effects were top-notch and there was also a surprising amount of live-action effects as well, all of which were utilized to perfection. The cinematography and direction were fantastic. I have a new respect for McG after seeing this film. The score was great as well and only added to the experience, especially the use of the original score from the first two films.
I think the thing I enjoyed the most was the nods to the earlier films that made me realize that the people that made this were really here to make a quality Terminator film, not just a moneymaker. I yelled when Reese said "Come with me if you want to live" and and I jumped out of my seat when John Connor played "You Could Be Mine" by Guns N' Roses (used by Connor in T2 as well) to attract a MotoTerminator. If you're a fan, this only sweetens the experience.
I had a few gripes, but as I went through them in my head, they're kind of superfluous and might only bother a die hard fan.
All in all, I was impressed and extremely happy with how the film turned out. Go see it on the big screen if you can!
Watchmen Is No Longer Unfilmable!
Watchmen was everything I had hoped for. It delivers a great story, interesting characters, top-notch special effects, gore, nudity, and a visual style that matches the graphic novel perfectly.
For starters, I have read the graphic novel and enjoyed it immensely. I was initially wary of the adaptation, but with the very competent Zack Snyder directing, I was sure that he would be able to deliver on his promise of a faithful adaptation. Boy did I hit the nail on the head! The story is multi-layered and involving, and has been adapted perfectly from the graphic novel. If you've read the novel, you won't be disappointed and if you haven't read the novel, you'll enjoy just as much (though you may not pick up on the subtle things included for the fans).
The characters are excellent and well-developed, something comic adaptations can fall short with. Each actor is superbly cast, especially Jeffrey Dean Morgan as The Comedian, Billy Crudup as Dr. Manhattan, and Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach. Each plays their character exactly how I envisioned them from the graphic novel. Haley is particularly unsettling and extremely effective. Malin Akerman was wonderful too; she was not just eye candy. Everyone else does a great job, even the supporting actors. It was also nice to see very minor characters in the novel make an appearance in the film.
The special effects were downright amazing, especially Dr. Manhattan who looks completely real and not at all like a CGI piece of crap I feared he might turn out to be. I'm not sure how they shot it, but he looks great. Rorschach's mask was very cool as well. Its ever-changing patterns evoked a certain identification with the character's complex and disturbed mind. The scenes on Mars were great but the standout effect was Dr. Manhattan's disintegration and reformation - by far one of the coolest things I've seen in years! The film was also quite gory, especially when Dr. Manhattan explodes people from the inside. Let's just it's not for the kids!
The music was great too and utilized flawlessly. Some people thought it was inappropriate but I thought its use was more than justified in context. I loved the opening montage set to Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A-Changin'" and the use of Hendrix's "All Along The Watchtower" near the end. By the way, "All Along The Watchtower" is originally a Dylan song, in case you didn't know!
Lastly, Snyder did make some changes to the graphic novel, mainly for pacing and to help the cinematic transition. However, nothing that was left out felt missing. The ending is changed slightly, and if you've read the novel, you will most likely be perfectly fine with the change unless you are a die hard perfectionist. My friend thought that the ending change actually worked better than the novel's real ending.
The Bottom Line: A satisfyingly well-done adaptation of Moore and Gibbons amazing graphic novel that delivers everything one could want and more! A+
Dead Silence (2007)
Enjoyable, But Not Without Flaws
First things first: Dolls/puppets/toys that move, talk and kill creep me out. Whether it be the clown doll from Poltergeist or Chucky, there is just something disturbing about an innocent toy being turned into something evil.
Anyway, on to the review. Dead Silence is a enjoyable, boo-scare filled little horror movie that succeeds for the most part by delivering on its premise. If you saw the trailer and said "Hey, that looks like it could be decent" then you will most likely enjoy the movie itself. Director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell have crafted a movie that will satisfy most movie-goers and give them at least one chill down their spine.
First the good things. The cinematography is excellent. The use of fog, eerie lighting, and some downright creepy settings make this a treat for your eyes. The town and all of its buildings are decrepit, moldy, and uninviting. The special effects for the most part are pretty well done. The design of the dolls themselves was perfect, giving them lifeless eyes and all-too-human looking faces. There was only one part in the climax where I was taken out of the movie by poorly done special effects.
The actors all do a decent job with the roles they're given, but no one stands out in particular. The music is good, nothing to write home about. The score was reminiscent of Silent Hill, but not used nearly as effectively.
Now onto the bad. The storyline was not as fleshed out as I was hoping. Now I'm not the type of guy who wants Citizen Kane from a horror movie so let's get that straight. What I mean is that the characters kind of stumbled around onto certain key plot points and I had a hard time believing some of the transitions. I also was hoping for more of a back story on Mary Shaw. We're told most of her story through flashbacks, but they go by way too fast. I did, however, love the flashback to her ventriloquist show in the old grand theater...very cool.
I only have one character nitpick with Donnie Wahlberg's Detective Lipton. He played the role with this smarmy attitude that rubbed me the wrong way. He turned into a much cooler character near the end, but by that point I really didn't care if he lived or died.
So should you see it? I'll put it this way: it's a lot better than most of the other horror crap coming out these days. The last 20 minutes are very well-done; scary, fast-paced, and different (in a good, "this is an interesting concept" sort of way). It's not a fantastic movie that you'll come out of clamoring for a sequel, but it's a well-made, fun movie for a Friday night.
How Can You Not Like RoboCop?
RoboCop is just about as close as you can get to the perfect sci-fi action movie. With Paul Verhoeven behind it, RoboCop gives us a gritty and depressing look at a violent future. Speaking of violence, this is an ultra-violent film that is not for the squeamish. Blood, guts, and body parts fly in all directions, which is what we've come to expect from Mr. Verhoeven. The action sequences are wonderfully over-the-top. You couldn't ask for any more huge explosions, intense car crashes, or crackling shootouts (all about the shootout at the cocaine factory). Peter Weller is perfect as RoboCop. No one could've played him better. And that's final. Ronny Cox and Kurtwood Smith are excellent as the villains...you just can't wait for them to get stabbed in the neck. The score is one of the most memorable in movie history and you will be humming it for days. The cinematography is top-notch as well. To sum up: great action, great story, great music, GREAT FUN! You go Robo!
Total Recall (1990)
Action Packed & Thought-Provoking
Total Recall is just a damn good movie. There's something for everyone here. Tons of great action sequences (complete with over-the-top violence), a compelling and interesting storyline that will give your brain a workout, excellent special effects (still to this day), a wonderful score, and great acting.
Schwarzenegger as Quaid and Michael Ironside as the psychotic Richter really shine here, giving excellent performances. You want action? YOU GOT IT! From the intense shootouts to the insane chases, this movie delivers on the action. Aiding the sizzling action are special effects that are as amazing as they were in 1990, from the vast stretches of Mars to all the futuristic weapons, cars, buildings and gadgets. Plus, you have a woman with three boobs. How can that NOT be good? The score by Jerry Goldsmith is powerful and fits the movie perfectly. Sci-Fi master Paul Verhoeven provides us with a kinetic, bloody, and amazing view of the future, just as he did with RoboCop and Starship Troopers. If you like Sci-Fi, don't miss this one.
The Boondock Saints (1999)
To Love Or To Hate
This is one of those movies where there is no 'grey area.' You'll either love it or you hate it, plain and simple.
Personally, I haven't enjoyed a movie this much in a long time. I could give tons of reasons why I loved the film, but basically, it's just a damn good movie. Everything you've read in the good reviews I agree with, while most of the bad reviews came across as if they didn't watch the movie. As for the ripping off of Tarantino, I couldn't care less. Not every crime/action/comedy movie is ripping off of Pulp Fiction. Spare me the comparisons. Either way, you should just rent it (or buy it like I did) to see for yourself.
The Island (2005)
You've Got To Hand It To Michael Bay...
The man knows how to make entertaining movies. Bad Boys, The Rock, Armageddon, and now The Island. The Island is one of the most satisfying sci-fi action movies of the year.
The acting by everyone is excellent. Ewan McGregor is great as Lincoln, playing the role with curiosity and bravery. Scarlett Johansson, looking very hot, plays Jordan just fine, giving the character a sweet and tender touch. The two have great chemistry together and both discover the new 'outside world' in some very amusing ways. Sean Bean nails the role of Dr. Merrick superbly, downplaying it with a hint of madness. Djimon Hounsou and Steve Buscemi are great in their supporting roles, making the most of them. I also enjoyed the 'practically-a-cameo' appearance by Michael Clarke Duncan.
The ideas thrown out there by the movie are handled fairly well. The thought of whether or not cloning should be used for something like it is in the film is looked at almost like abortion. Though I think they could have delved deeper into all the ideas and problems, they didn't need to here. This is a Michael Bay movie! Let's blow some stuff up!
The action sequences and special effects are eye-poppingly spectacular. My favorite action sequence, probably of the entire year, was the amazing 'train wheel chase', which has our two heroes rolling gigantic metal train wheels off the back of a speeding truck, onto the freeway where enemy cars are tailing them. Even though it lasts less than two minutes, watching these vehicles flip over, roll end over end, and get torn to shreds was incredible! One other note-worthy scene is where a huge building logo falls off the building and crashes into a helicopter. Great stuff! The other special effects are generally well done, not relying on CGI too much.
Michael Bay knows how to polish things up damn good. The cinematography is excellent, with teal blues and golden ambers permeating the screen. Bay manages to give the film a sleek and shiny look, really giving the movie a futuristic feel to it. The chases are all shot with a kinetic intensity that fits the lightning pace of the movie perfectly.
The music is also excellent, complimenting the movie perfectly. Steve Jablonsky did a great job. Keep up the good work Steve!
The Bottom Line:
An excellent sci-fi actioner from the Bay-man with some awesome chase scenes, great acting, and a little something for you to think about.
Fun with Dick and Jane (2005)
Jim Carrey Does It Once Again!!!!
Let me start off by saying that Jim Carrey is my favorite comedian, hands down. He can make ANYTHING funny, with his crazy facial expressions and gangly flailing limbs. If you don't find Jim Carrey funny (I really can't see why some people don't), you probably won't find the movie funny. It's that simple.
Onto the review! Jim Carrey shines here like he does in everything else as Dick Harper. Carrey being the everyman that he is, he slides right into the role. His manic insanity is ever-present, especially in a scene where he has to literally chase down a customer he didn't greet at the door of his new job. Téa Leoni does a great job as well, off-setting Carrey's craziness with amusing sarcasm. They have great chemistry together, which adds to the movie's charm. In one scene where they rob a car dealership, I was laughing so hard I had tears in my eyes!
All the supporting characters are good, especially Richard Jenkins as Frank Bascom, the drunken superior to Dick. Alec Baldwin is also good as the seedy CEO of Dick's company.
A great deal of the movie is physical comedy, which Carrey handles wonderfully. The movie really kicks into high gear once Dick and Jane start robbing people. Watching them get back everything they lost by robbing such places as Starbucks and Chinese buffets is hilarious.
The music was well-done, adding a lot to the movie. I also enjoyed the poke at Enron at the end. Go see it.
The Bottom Line:
A funny, over-the-top romp with almost non-stop laughs. With Jim Carrey you really can't lose!
Brain Damage (1988)
My main interest in Brain Damage came from its awesome holo-foil DVD cover. The side of a man's head shattered open, expelling white lightning was too good to NOT to look at. After doing a little research and taking the advice of the comments on the trusty IMDb, I bought it and discovered a gory, over-the-top, awesome horror movie!
The performances by everyone are decent. Rick Hearst as Brian does a great job, expressing fear and portraying addiction very convincingly. Both Brain's brother and girlfriend do a fine job. I felt for them and didn't want them to get their brains ripped out. The character of Aylmer is great, voiced wonderfully by John Zacherle. All the minor characters do a good enough job, some being a little over-the-top.
The special effects are deliciously gory! People getting their brains ripped out through practically every orifice is done very well, my favorite being when Brian pulls his own brain out through his ear! Aylmer looks like a very large turd, but is still a convincing character. All the trippy drug effects are suitably 80's with all kinds of neon colors. The ending was also very cool.
The music is very 80's, creating a nostalgic feeling that really sucks you into the movie. I also loved the nod to Basket Case on the subway. Good job Frank!
My only minor complaint is that a few of the scenes of Aylmer attacking someone are one long shot of the entire attack, lasting over a minute. It got a little monotonous, but only once or twice.
The Bottom Line:
An enjoyable cult classic with some juicy gore, over-the-top acting, and a side order of nostalgia, all in one nice little package!
King Kong (2005)
Being a huge fan of the original King Kong (though nowhere near as big a fan as Peter Jackson himself), the minute I heard about Universal remaking it with Jackson behind the camera, I was thrilled! I was anticipating this film for over a year and I can tell you that I was in no way disappointed. King Kong is pure magic: what the movies are all about.
King Kong is one the most exhilarating adventure movies I've seen in a long time. Everything about it is fantastic: the setting, the story, the acting, the special effects, and the music are all perfect. There are a few liberties taken with the story that are different from the original, but they work fine here. Peter Jackson did a masterful job in remaking one of the greatest adventure films of all time.
The acting by everyone is superb. Naomi Watts is incredible as Ann Darrow, capturing innocence and beauty in her face and injecting the character with life and substance. She develops a heart-felt and believable relationship with Kong that drives the story. Adrien Brody fleshes out the character of Jack Driscoll wonderfully, portrayed as a screenwriter instead of a sailor. Jack Black is suitably crazy (in a good way) as Carl Denham and nails the role perfectly. Kong himself becomes more than just a CGI creation, he actually becomes a lovable yet ferocious character, as important to the story as any of the other characters.
The special effects are breathtaking. Seeing Kong fight not one, but four V-Rexes while trying to protect Ann is a sight to behold. Watching him climb to the top of the Empire State Building and obliterate attacking bi-planes is incredible to witness. Andy Serkis did an amazing job capturing the movement and facial expressions that make Kong so much more real. The new spider-pit sequence is very cool and effectively creepy. The CGI effects are great, actually giving the creatures 'mass', so they actually appear to be moving and interacting with the environment. So, basically, the effects are astonishing!
The music is fantastic and does not overpower the film. Bits of Max Steiner's original score can be heard in places, which is a nice homage to the original.
King Kong is emotional intense as well. The relationship between Kong and Ann is wonderful. Their interaction is funny and amazing. To see Kong's rage when Ann is taken from him is frightening. And it is incredibly sad to see Kong fall from the Empire State Building, a scene that brought tears to my eyes, making it the first movie I have ever cried at.
So, in short, King Kong is pure escapism from start to finish and definitely one of the most exciting and emotional films in the past decade. A masterpiece of adventure.