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8 reviews in total 
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The Island (2005)
1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Don't believe the trailer, 9 August 2005

I've heard a lot of people saying they're going to pass on seeing "The Island" because they saw the trailer and thought it looked stupid. Believe me, the trailer is stupid but the movie is not. This is a movie that is both thought-provoking and filled with intense action throughout.

The acting is pretty near top-notch. Sean Bean is, of course, a master of being quietly evil. Ewan McGregor can't quite pull off an American accent, but he can convincingly sound like an American trying to imitate a Scottish accent, which I thought was good. In both of his roles, he's excellent. On one side, the naive but courageous child-in-an-adult-body, on the other side, the millionaire playboy. Scarlett Johansson didn't have to deal with the same kind of duality, but she also pulls off the naive-but-courageous thing well.

The action scenes in this film were jaw-dropping. The car chase through whatever big city they end up in (I forget where it was supposed to be) was one of the most amazing I've ever seen, in which an exceptional amount of stuff got smashed up in a very spectacular way (think lots of very heavy pieces of metal colliding with speeding cars). I guarantee the action scenes here will have your heart racing.

I only have a couple of complaints - they're really only nitpicks that probably won't matter to other people. The first is the constant, relentless product placement. You'll notice that every car in the movie, with exceptions I can count on one hand, is a Chrysler 300, mostly with modified grilles. The MSN Search thing also bothered me. The other thing is the use of fat black people for comic relief. It happens twice. I admit the time with the construction worker was quite funny, but still.

The plot, while not original, involves an old ethical debate that is explored in an interesting yet somewhat biased way. It'll set you thinking, if nothing else. It even makes the ending scene, which would otherwise be painfully corny, moving, or I might even say powerful.

Don't believe the trailer for "The Island". If you want to see a great action movie that isn't totally mindless, go see "The Island".

"Scrubs" (2001)
1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
The best American comedy currently in production, 9 January 2005

Scrubs is a comedy unlike many others. It's missing a laugh track (which just goes to show how awesome the writing is), and of course it has the priceless fantasy sequences. It's unusual, it's innovative and that's what makes it a very enjoyable comedy.

Most American comedies now go down the evil path of becoming a half-hour one-liner-fest with commercials in between. Scrubs, hopefully, has a few years to go before it does that. The reason Scrubs is still a fresh, funny comedy is primarily its amazing characters, played by an extremely talented cast. The characters are all quirky, different, and the chemistry of the actors is perfect. You'd be hard pressed to find a real person who is anything like any of the characters, but somehow, you end up caring about them.

Unfortunately, the very thing that makes the characters' relationships so entertaining is the reason why Scrubs is constantly threatened by the giant dark pit of TV comedy doom. For example, the J.D.-Elliot dynamic is great, sparking some brilliant episodes at the end of the third season. However, this relationship is great because it is constantly shifting, over the foundation of an old friendship. There's only so many things that can happen between them, and once they're all used up, the show will get repetitive.

The same is true of the J.D.-Cox dynamic: it was the best in the first season when J.D. was new to medicine. However, as J.D. becomes more experienced, Cox softens up more and more. Cox is the most entertaining character, and he's entertaining because he's such a tough guy, and he becomes mundane as he softens. The moment Cox gives J.D. the hug J.D. has always wanted, Scrubs is dead.

If you're tired of new comedies being the same old thing, give Scrubs a try. It's definitely not the same old thing. What other comedy regularly gives you crazy stuff like a fantasy where two main characters strut into the hospital, completely pimped out? Or a Kill-Bill-style sword fight?

I go out of my way to make sure I see Scrubs whenever it's on. If you like it, I recommend you do the same - before it jumps the shark. Since it lives so close to the edge, you know it eventually will.

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Good fun, but not outstanding, 26 December 2004

You can't expect anything less than top quality from Pixar, and with The Incredibles, they certainly deliver.

The main issue I had was the simplistic style. If you've seen Finding Nemo, you'll know that it's full of subtle jokes and references to popular culture, something that is almost entirely absent in The Incredibles. It's those subtle jokes that keep adults interested in a movie like this. Of course there are tons of references to comics and their superheroes, but these are inaccessible to the general viewer.

The Incredibles is also lacking in verbal humor compared to Nemo. It's disappointing to watch The Incredibles and wonder where the jokes are, once you've seen what Pixar's capable of.

Following a general trend in Pixar movies, the graphics are a step up from Finding Nemo, which showcased the Pixar team's skills at simulating water and its interaction with light. The Incredibles showcases their particle effects; i.e. explosions, dust, etc. There certainly are rather a lot of explosions. The Incredibles is eye candy all the way through, but primarily to someone who knows how to judge computer graphics (as I do). The graphics aren't stunningly beautiful like in Nemo, but they are very technologically advanced.

The action sequences are outstanding, in particular the sequence on the island with all the family members. Their superpowers complement each other very well, to combine into a very satisfying and enjoyable sequence.

All in all a good movie, worth seeing. Can be enjoyed by kids and adults alike (but be warned there are a LOT of explosions), just don't expect the high sophistication and sheer graphical beauty of Finding Nemo.

Ambush (2001)
6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
A very smart marketing maneuver, 7 October 2004

The BMW Films series are not supposed to be cinematic masterpieces. They are intended to have car chases that involve BMWs going really fast and doing really cool tricks. This film delivers that in plenty.

Clive Owen is perfect as the deadpan, unflappable Driver. He gives the impression that nothing can get him upset, not even getting his 7-Series (not a cheap car at all) all riddled with bullets and smashed up.

Tomas Milian, the diamond-smuggling Passenger, is also excellent in his role. His fear and nervousness contrasts perfectly with the Driver's relentless calm.

As with all the BMW Films, you're not supposed to worry about the plot. The car chase comes first. The plot is built around the chase, not the other way around. That's the important thing to remember. Just enjoy the chase and wish you had a 7-Series.

Hostage (2002)
2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Very neat idea, well executed, 13 September 2004

Do not watch any of these films if you are expecting intricate plot or thought-provoking messages or deep characters. If you want a guy driving the BMW du jour around really fast, by all means watch this series of shorts.

In Hostage, the BMW du jour is the Z4. The chase is classic John Woo material, and the plot is simply stuck onto it, almost as an afterthought. That doesn't really matter, though. You can still enjoy it. It is a very good car chase.

In fact, it's fair to say this is not so much a short film as a very long BMW commercial. It works very well. I wanted to buy a Z4 after watching it, so I could drive around like a psycho. The movie makes it look fun, and it makes you have fun while watching it.

"The Grid" (2004)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Not excellent, but worth watching, 8 August 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This comment contains spoilers, unless you've seen the third episode.

The release of "The Grid" could not have come at a better time. One of the primary conflicts in the series is the bureaucracy involved between the various American and British intelligence agencies, right when we're in the midst of all this stuff in the real world about an "intelligence czar" and a national counter-terrorism center. One of the series' merits is that it shows what could happen if the government lets bureaucracy get in the way of actually fighting terrorism.

Some have objected to "The Grid" on the basis of its being racist. I have two counter- arguments. The first is that Muslim extremists are the group identified by a lot of Americans as the primary terrorist group in the world, so involving any other group would not "click" with audiences. Sad but true, I know. The second counter-argument is that the series makes an effort to humanize the antagonists. Ragib Mutar, for example, gets unwillingly caught up in the terrorist plot, initially only because he wants the best for his patients, and he suffers greatly for his involvement.

Most of the actors are good enough to hold up the story. The exceptions are, unfortunately, the two main actors, the only ones who are named in the trailers: Julianna Margulies and Dylan McDermott. Neither of them seems to be able to evoke the appropriate emotions on screen. I can't speak for Margulies, but I know McDermott is a fairly good actor (from seeing him on "The Practice"). Here, he's either not trying or he's miscast.

The supporting actors are excellent, especially Tom Skerritt, Jemma Redgrave and Bernard Hill. Hill was a superb choice to play Derek Jennings - he is a natural tough guy and very British. He even looks like a grizzled veteran. You don't see him really act like one until the third episode - see below - but when he does, he's amazingly convincing. Redgrave creates mystery around her character very well - you can never be sure exactly what she's thinking or what her intentions are. We see that the character can be very cool and calm, but at other times she shows emotion, but you get the feelings those emotions might be fake.

Especially during the pilot episode, the action seemed to drag a bit too long. The pace only really started to pick up towards the end, where the FBI raids a warehouse. I never really felt a lot of suspense and adrenaline except for one scene in the third episode involving Derek Jennings in an elevator. That made my heart pound crazily. You see Bernard Hill's skill as an actor - you can tell he's suspicious of the assassin, but you can't tell that he knows who he is. You wonder if Jennings' experience and training will save his life or if he will become just another victim.

I look forward to the finale, when all the intricate plot threads will finally come together (hopefully). I will definitely be watching it, and I hope it doesn't go downhill.

3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Near flawless, 29 July 2004

Action movies are supposed to make your heart race and your adrenaline glands roar into action. "The Bourne Supremacy" does exactly that, with its centerpiece being an insane car chase, certainly the best one I've ever seen.

I say it's near flawless only because the camera work was nausea-inducing. Of course for scenes of intense action it is customary to have a shaky, hand-held camera, but not for every scene in the movie, for God's sake. It wasn't so much nausea-inducing as headache-inducing, as my eyes got tired of flicking around to follow the action.

Otherwise, apart from a few believability problems, I couldn't find anything wrong. My problems include: how can you get shot in the shoulder and not have a hole in your coat? How can you get broadsided in a car by another one at high speed and not even get sidelined with whiplash? How can a cruddy old taxi outpace brand-new, souped-up Mercedes-Benzes? But that's all OK - I should know by now, the hero of an action movie is invincible.

"The Bourne Supremacy" keeps the adrenaline flowing and the knuckles white almost constantly. The cast is flawless - nobody dragged the rest down. If you want your movie to be successful, you need a really good lead actor, and that's exactly what Matt Damon is. He balances the troubled human and the trained superhuman with amazing ease and naturalness. He is equally at home being frightened and confused as being ruthless and efficient.

"The Bourne Supremacy", as a spy action-thriller, is a refreshing change from the Bond franchise. The main difference here is that the hero is not a suave, handsome, martini- drinking, womanizing, suit-wearing, British assassin, but a CIA deserter who has changed his ways and only wants to settle down for a quiet life with the woman he loves, and who is haunted by the nightmares and visions induced by his past. In short, he's human, and that makes us pay more attention to him and care about him. Of course neither Bond nor Bourne makes mistakes, and they both like to drive and run really fast, but hey - sometimes breaking too far from the mold is bad.

My rating is 8/10. I really hate coming out of a great movie with a headache just because some camera-person has a shaky hand.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
A bit clumsy, but achieved its goal, 22 July 2004

To appreciate this movie, you have to understand what it was trying to achieve. Jerry Bruckheimer wanted battles. And more battles. Never mind that the film was just a bunch of battle scenes stitched together with a poor excuse for a plot; it wasn't supposed to be intellectually stimulating or filled with edge-of-your-seat suspense. An action movie is supposed to make your heart pound, make the adrenaline flow, to test the limits of the movie theater's sound system. With its battle scenes, King Arthur achieved its objective.

The battles were masterfully executed, and there was just the right balance between battles and the minimal plot required to get from one battle to the next. The love scene between Guinevere and Arthur was kind of useless; it seemed to me as if the editors said, "Where are we gonna put this scene? Ah, hell, right there's as good as any; it doesn't make sense anyway."

The acting was merely OK, but that didn't detract very much since they didn't have much of a plot to support anyway. Clive Owen didn't strike me as a heroic leader whose courage and bravery eventually became the stuff of legend. However, everyone else did their best with what they were given. I think the star of the show was Ray Winstone, the big knight Bors with the Cockney accent. The accent of course makes no sense, but whatcha gonna do? Deserving an honorable mention was Ivano Marescotti, portraying Bishop Germanius. He radiated evilness and slime. Keira Knightley...I know she's a good actress from her performance in PotC, but here she wasn't too great. The character wasn't much to work with, though, so that's excusable.

I did say it achieved its goal quite well, but it's not clear what that goal is at first. The fact that King Arthur claims to be historically accurate makes you think at first that it might actually be historically accurate. Of course it's not. For that, and for the mediocre acting and the pointless love scene, my rating is 6/10.